For Newton Now
Two days before classes are set to start, 46 Bethel College students and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.
According to the Harvey County Health Department, the cluster of cases was identified through precautionary COVID-19 testing of students, faculty, staff and administrators conducted by Bethel College.
“We appreciate Bethel’s proactive approach to preparing for its in-person fall semester,” stated Harvey County Health Department Director Lynnette Redington. “We are of course glad that the individuals in these cases are generally in good health and good spirits. Being able to identify these individuals with COVID-19 now helps protect not just the Bethel community but the communities of Harvey County as a whole.”
The individuals have been able to self-isolate on campus or at their permanent residence. Bethel College’s Emergency Response Team, along with the health department, will regularly monitor the health of the individuals, as well as follow up on all close contacts.
Some of the confirmed cases reside out of county or out of state when the college is not in session. However, these individuals will be included in Harvey County’s COVID-19 statistics, as Harvey County is their current place of residence.
Bethel President Jon Gering stated that the mandatory testing during school opening was a way of assessing prevalence within the student and employee population. Out of the 482 tested, 9.54 percent were positive for COVID-19.
“Our efforts have provided valuable public health information and revealed important health information for students and their families,” Gering said.
As part of its reopening plan, Bethel College also requires daily temperature checks, health status monitoring through a self-screening app, and individuals to wear a face mask indoors and outdoors on the campus.
According to the release, students, faculty and staff, as well as community members, can consult Bethel’s COVID-19 information clearinghouse on its website at www.bethelks.edu/coronavirus-information. The site includes a link to Bethel’s “COVID procedures,” which outlines scenarios based on possible infections and infection rates.