Student Who Tested Positive for COVID-19 Cleared to Return to School

After just 4-days, the student who tested positive for COVID-19 is allowed to return to campus. Heather Thomas, the Public and Governmental Affairs Manager for the Snohomish Health District said today in an interview that the student has been deemed “recovered” and cleared to return to school provided they have been symptom free for 72-hours.

None of the infected patients will need to take another COVID-19 test to be cleared. “I believe the CDC has waived that,” Thomas said. “They no longer have to have the two negatives, they have determined that once the symptoms have cleared… Once it’s been 72-hours since those symptoms have dissipated, they are deemed no longer contagious.”  According to Thomas, patients are most contagious when they are coughing, sneezing or running a fever. Once those symptoms are gone, the patient should be okay to re-enter society. 

In an announcement last Friday, President Willis shared that the college had received reports from other individuals in the EvCC community who believed they might have been exposed to the virus. As of today, “we’ve been monitoring those very closely and those have not resulted in a positive diagnosis,” said Willis.

Once again, the identification of the student will not be disclosed to the student body. “This is all about protecting people’s privacy,” said Willis. In addition, she explained that because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that the school wants to protect the privacy of the people who are involved by not releasing the information.

Savanna Eickerman
“we’ve been monitoring those very closely and those have not resulted in a positive diagnosis,” said Willis in an interview regarding other students who have tested themselves for COVID-19.

When asked about some of the challenges she’s noticed instructors are having when changing their teaching style to an online format, she had this to say. “I imagine that it’s very challenging to have to shift to this modality, literally overnight.” She believes the silver lining is that it’s the last week of classes. Her thought process is that since it’s the last week of classes, instructors don’t need to move their entire course content over to an online modality. 

Willis also mentioned that the school was getting guidance from the U.S. Department of Education (DoEd). The DoEd explained what the school could do to accommodate the instructors and students. “It could be that the instructor is doing a ZOOM phone call with students or giving assignments via email to their student body,” said Willis. It doesn’t seem to be the same structure of online as some might think a traditional online class might look like. “This is just a stop-grab to get through the remainder of the quarter.”

As of next quarter, Willis and her executive team are continuing to monitor the situation. Her goal is for the school to be fully operational at the start of Spring quarter, “that could change in a moments notice, I’m not a medical professional but we are waiting to see what happens.”

According to The Seattle Times, on Sunday Mar. 8, Gov. Jay Inslee appeared on the CBS show “Face the Nation” where he was asked about the possibility that Washington State could ratify similar lockdown requirements like the one in place in Italy. Requirements could include travel restrictions, shuttering movie theaters and museums and closing sporting events to the public. When asked by host, Margaret Brennan if he’s contemplated shutting it down, Inslee responded, “Well, we don’t use that kind of language, but we certainly are contemplating requirements for what we call social distancing in the public health realm,” said Inslee. “We are looking to determine whether mandatory measures are required.”

Savanna Eickerman
Katherine Schiffner, Director of Public Relations for EvCC, shares how the dorms are staying clean.

When asked about Inslee’s interview and if the school has a plan in the event that mandatory measures are required, Willis said this, “That just happened yesterday, so we are working on a plan. My team is meeting everyday at least for the next two weeks so we can talk about these newest developments as they take place.”

Willis is also on a daily conference call with the Snohomish Health District and is waiting to see what the governor decides to do. The school is working on 3 different scenarios for next quarter. One scenario is that the school will continue the extended telecommuting policy. Another scenario would be that the school might have to look at the way they are offering classes next quarter. The last scenario would be that the school goes back to full mode after spring break. 

“Our custodial crew is amazing,” says Willis. The crew has been taking extra precautions when cleaning the school such as using gloves and masks. Last Friday, the school sponsored a pizza dinner for the entire crew to thank them for the work they have put in to make sure the campus is clean. Two custodians have called in sick since the closure but neither case is related to the virus. 

Student housing has also been a concern for some students. Some are wondering what the school is doing to help keep their buildings clean. “A cleaning company cleaned all the housing common areas, such as lobbies, game rooms, TV lounges and laundry rooms on Friday,” said EvCC Director of Public Relations, Katherine Schiffner. 

The company cleaned all touchpoints in the building, such as door handles and handrails. Cedar Hall and Mountain View Hall each have cleaning supplies available for residents. As part of their rounds, Resident Assistants are regularly wiping down common areas. “It is important to have the students actively involved in making sure they are keeping their spaces clean,” says Schiffner. “Practicing good personal hygiene will go a long way toward keeping the housing areas clean and safe for all.”


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