Keene State College reported four new positive COVID-19 cases among students after the first week of on-campus testing.
Director of Strategic Communication Kelly Ricaurte said that those four positive cases are out of 3,531 people tested on campus, meaning that only 0.113 percent of the Keene State population tested positive for the virus.
Keene State College President Melinda Treadwell said these four students who tested positive were informed over the weekend and moved to a separate location to isolate and those who they may have been in contact with are in quarantine. According to Treadwell, three of those individuals are isolating off campus while the fourth is isolating in Monadnock Hall on campus. Treadwell added that everything is going according to the college’s reopening plan.
“We knew we would see positive cases on campus and we will definitely see more,” Treadwell said. “We have low incident rates both on-campus and in the surrounding area.”
Department Chair for the Safety and Occupational Health Applied Sciences Dr. Wayne Hartz said he is pleased with the testing results so far. “That is amazing,” Hartz said. “Good for us.”
Hartz added that Keene State is showing low case numbers compared to other campuses because other campuses did not ensure students tested negative for COVID-19 before letting them on campus.
According to President Treadwell, every positive case linked to the Keene State College community has been asymptomatic, meaning that none of the individuals infected have shown symptoms for COVID-19. Hartz said he thinks students, faculty and staff at the college should be vigilant of this.
“The problem with this virus is that often you never even know who has it,” Hartz said.
Keene State currently has four students in isolation and 22 students in quarantine, according to Ricaurte. Isolation refers to individuals who have tested positive for the virus and quarantine refers to individuals who may have been in contact with the virus. Ricaurte added that the college has seen a total of 12 positive cases since the beginning of pre-arrival testing in August.
Treadwell said that there has been “no contagion” on campus, adding that none of the individuals who were in contact with a positive case ended up contracting the virus. “The students have been working really well.”
Although it is something new for the college this semester, the compliance for testing has been “spot on” according to Dean of Students Gail Zimmerman. “The participation with testing has been great,” Zimmerman said. “Kudos to students for compliance. Please keep that up to keep us safe and open.” According to an email sent out by President Treadwell, 99 percent of students living on campus were tested and 93 percent of students living off campus were tested.
The participation was so great, that at one point Treadwell said the line was estimated at 45 minutes long, stretching outside the Spaulding Gymnasium where testing is held. According to Treadwell, when the line is that long it is important to maintain social distance. Although there are markings on the floor inside the testing site, Treadwell said it is up to the students, faculty and staff to maintain social distance.
“Students should be keeping spacing themselves,” Treadwell said. “This is what we’re supposed to be doing everywhere on campus, so it should be the same while waiting to get tested.” Treadwell added that the time blocks for testing have been changed for the future to make the testing process easier and shorter.
Zimmerman added that is important to ensure student participation in testing. According to Zimmerman, students will have to present a weekly negative test result to remain on campus this semester. She said that if a week is missed, then a student must present a negative test result off campus before they are allowed to return to campus.
Treadwell said that the complacency and cooperation of the Keene State community has been great. “It is an immensely good sign for the rest of the semester, I just hope people don’t get fatigued,” Treadwell said. “I see faculty, staff and students all wearing their masks and that will make a difference. When planning the college’s reopening, I wasn’t exactly sure what that would look like, but the students are realizing that for me.”
Hunter Oberst can be contacted at