Hope College tests all students, isolates positive COVID-19 cases

Posted at 10:00 AM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 19:46:13-04

HOLLAND, Mich. — One day after Hope College started class on campus, the school is reporting 38 positive tests for Covid 19.

Those numbers represent a rate lower than 1% of the nearly 3,900 tests given to all students, faculty and staff, and as Hope College told Fox 17 Tuesday, those tests administered were "pre-arrival", timed for people to take them about two weeks before they planned to be back on campus.

Fox 17 spoke with Vice President of Public Affairs and Marketing at Hope College, Jennifer Fellinger, who explained that anyone who tests positive will isolate for 10 days before being back in the campus public setting.

"Our plan A from the beginning was to prepare for positive cases because you can't look at the national and state positive rates and not believe that you're going to have positives on your campus, so early on we knew we needed to prepare for this, and really, step one of the preparation was doing the pre-arrival testing," Fellinger told Fox 17.

Hope will begin its daily testing on Wednesday. Each day the school will test 1% of its students in addition to anyone experiencing symptoms, with the results coming in about 15 minutes.

Fellinger adds that students who test positive will go to designated isolation housing and still have dining services and technology provided that will allow them to follow along with their classes during their 10 day isolation.

"So when we started planning for testing months ago, we really tried to address those two issues, turnaround time and testing supplies. We feel good going into the semester, of course anything can happen right? But we feel like we did the best possible job getting ready for those two issues in terms of testing so we can move forward," Fellinger explained.

The school administered more than 3,800 tests between July 29 and August 16. The 5 positive cases on campus were discovered through testing done upon arrival.

Hope College says students on campus who have tested positive— fewer than five — were identified through advance screening and are in housing on campus that the college has designated for isolation purposes. They and the students who are isolating at home are attending their classes remotely.

In a statement, the school said:

"Like every school in the nation, we were anticipating COVID-19 cases when we started. We have been planning all summer for this reality. Unlike many schools, however, we tested all of our students, faculty and staff pre-arrival and at arrival to establish a baseline classroom presence of zero cases as part of a multi-tiered approach to monitoring and mitigation that includes sustained testing throughout the semester."

According to the school, Hope has reserved 126 rooms for quarantine and isolation. It also has a quarantine and isolation team to help respond.

Hope College says it will not publicly disclose the name of any student or employee who has a diagnosed or presumed positive case of COVID-19, even if that person has shared their diagnosis with others on campus.