Sean Keohane / Equinox Staff

“I’m surprised we haven’t seen more [positive cases] and I think that’s a testament to the whole community,” said Kirk Sagner, Coordinator of the COVID-19 Rapid Response Team.

Throughout this fall semester, Keene State College has done its job keeping cases to a minimum. As of November 12, just 19 have been positive out of the 33,016 tests carried out this semester. That’s a rate of over 99.9 percent negative. According to the COVID-19 cumulative data dashboard on the college’s website, three individuals tested positive for COVID-19 between November 4 and November 10.

“We’re all just so proud of students and how well they managed this difficult situation this semester,” said Kelly Ricaurte, the Director of Strategic Communications and Community Relations at Keene State. “We’re close to the end of the semester, we’re so close. We just need to keep it up a little bit longer while we’re together to make sure we stay safe.”

“Because we’re working so hard at staying safe, it’s working,” added Ricaurte.

Keene State has a number of guidelines to keep students safe. Some include mandatory face coverings when around other people or walking around campus, weekly testing, mandatory reporting of symptoms and temperature checks before entering the recreation center.

“Weekly COVID testing is something that most colleges and universities are not doing. It really is above and beyond,” said Ricaurte.

Keene State College has done over three thousand tests every week.

“Keene State is really committed to making sure that we stay safe and that we get that testing done,” said Ricaurte. When a test returns positive, it is taken very seriously. And Quest Diagnostics has been an

integral part of the testing process.

“[The Rapid Response Team] is always watching that Quest system. Quest has a portal that we watch that we have access to, and were constantly watching this portal,” said Sagner. “When there’s a positive, it kind of comes up in the system as a red flag basically, and we can kind of queue in very quickly.”

From there, the next step is getting the student in isolation. The team will call the student, and get them into isolation as soon as possible.

“We check in with this daily,” Sagner added, referring to those in quarantine. Keene State wants to make sure that the physical and mental health of those quarantined are good.

“Two days before the test date, we want to make sure we have an idea about everyone they have been in close contact with,” added Sagner. “Once we do that, we immediately reach out to those people and get them into quarantine. If they’re on campus, we try to get them home if possible because we don’t have that many beds to quarantine everybody.”

Those who test positive will quarantine for 10 days from the test date, and those who were in close contact quarantine for 14 days from the most recent day they were in close contact with the positive testee.

“If you’re already showing symptoms or you’re already showing enough virus to test positive, that means you’re already five to seven days in the life cycle of that virus, so you’ve already taken off some of that time from that 14 day period,” Sagner said.


Ethan Winer can be contacted at:

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