Grace College successfully returned students to campus for the spring semester after rolling out its new testing protocol. Before classes resumed on January 25, students were required to show proof of a negative COVID test prior to arrival. In addition, the school implemented mandatory weekly surveillance testing for all students throughout the spring semester.
“The testing has been phenomenal so far,” said Dr. Bill Katip, president of Grace College. “I’d like to thank students for their compliance in providing reentry tests. We were able to identify a number of students with COVID and delay their re-entry to campus. Since then, we’ve been testing close to 1,000 students weekly, with an average positivity rate of .5 percent, which allows us to isolate and quarantine students quickly before they expose others,” said Katip.
The college uses a rapid antigen test that is a non-invasive, self-administered nose swab. Students sign up for a time slot to administer the test each week, and the results of the test are received within one hour.
“I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the ease and expediency of the testing process,” said Grace College junior Nathaniel Doss. “The first time I got tested, I was in and out within five minutes. I’m thankful that Grace has provided protocol that helps our campus stay healthy, but doesn’t disrupt the rhythms of campus life and academics that make Grace so special,” he said.
Grace faculty are thankful to be teaching in person after two months away from campus. Dr. Joseph Frentzel, chair of the Department of Science and Mathematics, expressed that in-class learning has been crucial for his General Biology II course.
“Student engagement and just general excitement about course content always seem to be higher with in-person laboratories,” said Dr. Frentzel. “And I think that students craved to be back just as much as the professors,” he said.
Freshman exercise science major Cole Beck agrees.
“Being able to examine slides under a microscope to locate different parts of a cell or dissect sheep brains in person has been very beneficial,” said Beck. “I am a visual and hands-on learner, so it really helps me understand the concepts when I can see them being worked out in person,” he said.
Frentzel commented that while campus-wide testing isn’t the only solution for reducing risk, it provides peace of mind that Grace will be able to limit the scope and spread of infection.
“This pandemic has required constant adaptability as we learn the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID,” said Katip. “We continue to believe that a layered public health strategy which includes masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing, symptom self-monitoring, surveillance testing, contact tracing, quarantine/isolation, and limited group events, is a responsible approach to slowing and stopping the spread of this virus,” he said.
For more information about Grace College’s COVID response, visit grace.edu/reopening-grace-college.