February 02, 2021 | Matt Kucinski

A wide shot of a covered bridge in winter that connects two sides of campus over a busy road.

On Tuesday, February 2, Calvin University begins its spring semester of in-person learning. Following the success of its approach to fall 2020, this past weekend the university again tested all members of the community as they arrived back to live and learn on campus for spring semester. And with newer testing capabilities, the turnaround time for results was much faster.

“When our rapid-result antigen tests show a positive at our screening clinics, we then immediately follow up with a PCR test, and if that is positive, we can then work to stop additional spread on campus,” said Sarah Visser, co-chair of the university’s COVID Response Team. “Early reporting of symptoms is a crucial step in our ability to care for and keep one another safe.”

Testing students upon arrival to campus proved to be an important strategy for keeping the COVID-19 case count low in fall 2020—where the amount of active cases among students living in on-campus residence halls and apartments remained in the single digits to low teens for most of the semester.

Calvin continues inspiring story amidst pandemic

While the return-to-learn screening tests have yielded a handful of positive results, Calvin’s sophisticated symptom-reporting system continues to help identify other positive cases, just as it did in the fall. As of February 1, the total number of active cases among students living on-campus is four. This number represents all on-campus residents who tested positive for COVID-19 and have not yet met the Kent County Health Department’s criteria for release from isolation. All students who have tested positive are in isolation in an effort to mitigate any community spread.

A key reason for Calvin’s continued success in mitigation efforts is in large part due to the university’s health services team which the Princeton Review ranks in the top 15 of all universities in the country for Health Services—a ranking they’ve held for nine years running. Dr. Laura Champion, a medical doctor with 25 years of experience in the Grand Rapids medical community has been leading this team, and Visser says Champion and her team’s connections to local, state, and national health officials has been invaluable during this pandemic.

“There is tremendous value in having a medical doctor and a team of health professionals on our staff,” said Visser. “And, in moments like these, months like these, we are realizing this benefit over and over again. Any decision we are making is informed by the best medical and public health advice from our health professionals. This will continue to set us up for success.”

To stay updated on Calvin’s positive test rate throughout the spring semester, visit the dashboard. For updates on Calvin’s ongoing response, visit the Safe Return website.

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