Spring semester in a COVID world

KSC President announces changes and adjustments to spring semester in virtual town hall

Griffin Ell / Art Director

COVID testing, commencement, athletics and even student expenses were all topics addressed in Keene State’s latest town hall meeting.

Keene State College President Melinda Treadwell held a virtual town hall on November 12 to discuss changes and adjustments to the Spring 2021 semester.

President Treadwell said that, like at the beginning of the fall semester, all students, staff and faculty will have to present a negative test result for COVID-19 before being allowed on campus. She added that students living on campus will be swabbed the day they move in and those living off campus can choose to either mail in their test result or do drive-up testing. President Treadwell added that members of the Keene State community will receive a wristband upon proof of a negative test. Following the wave of pre-arrival testing, the school will revert back to its regularly scheduled weekly testing.

President Treadwell said that the pre-arrival testing and ensuring that students were negative prior to moving in on campus was a big part of the college’s low incident rate so far.

“It was a crucial part of the fall so we will continue to do that,” Treadwell said.

One person in attendance at the webinar asked via the Q/A chat whether students, staff and faculty who get a COVID-19 vaccine would have to be subject to weekly testing. President Treadwell responded that they would.

“People will still have to get tested weekly as an extra safety precaution,” Treadwell said. “We are watching out to see if the vaccine will cause a false positive.”

A false positive refers to people who are not infected with a virus, but still show positive results.

The USNH is also in discussion on whether the labs at the University of New Hampshire in Durham and Manchester will be able to analyze COVID-19 samples. Treadwell said this would greatly increase the turn-around time for Keene State getting their test results back. The Equinox previously reported that Keene State would be sending their testing samples to the lab in Manchester. President Treadwell had told The Equinox that the turn-around time for these test results would be within a 24-to-48 hour window as opposed to the three to five day period with Quest Diagnostics. She also told The Equinox that sending samples to UNH would significantly cut costs. Through Quest it costs around $120 per test, but sending it through UNH would be around $20 to $40, though that figure is not final.

President Treadwell also announced that the college is looking into allowing parents to be in attendance at outside athletic events provided that correct spacing is practiced.

“As a former athlete, I know how important it is to have your parents there to support you,” Treadwell said.

Although parents will be allowed in attendance to outdoor events, President Treadwell added that that likely won’t be the case for indoor sports. However, she added that the college has been working on setting up the best live streaming they can for basketball games.

Another topic President Treadwell addressed during the webinar was paying for college. Several of those in attendance asked if tuition would be lowered for the spring semester. President Treadwell said that because the college is still offering a full on-campus experience, tuition will not be changed next semester. She added that they have been speaking to students and they have given positive feedback of their experience at the college this fall.

President Treadwell also said that fees won’t be adjusted either because those fees are associated with technological

expenses. She added that expenses for room and board could be changed.

“If we cannot honor our full contract, then we might adjust room and board,” Treadwell said.

A part of that “full experience” for college typically includes commencement. President Treadwell announced that Keene State plans to hold an on-campus commencement ceremony for the class of 2021, however there will likely be limited attendance.

“We cannot welcome and secure safety for family members,” Treadwell said. “We cannot have 10 to 14,000 people who typically attend and still stay safe.”

President Treadwell said the school will be aggressive in watching COVID-19 rates as the semester comes to an end and students return home for Thanksgiving.

“You students have shown that you care about your classmates and the community and your family,” Treadwell said. “The choices you make now impact your ability to return safely to your families for Thanksgiving.”

 

Hunter Oberst can be contacted at:

news@kscequinox.com