With the end of the semester approaching quickly and COVID-19 cases on the rise, it is unclear as to what the future holds for Keene State College.
Some members of the on-campus community say that Keene State is doing a good job of controlling the COVID-19 situation. Will it be able to stay open or will the school have to close down again, similar to the Spring of 2020 semester?
Students at the college have said that they think the college will be able to remain open. Alex Barnard, a first-year at Keene State, said, “I think we could probably make it.” Barnard is not too worried about the rise in cases because, “It’s happened before.” The extra precautions the college is taking to ensure the safety of the students makes him confident that we will not be going home, “The double testing definitely helps and we constantly have to wear masks.” The college is doing enough for Barnard as he said, “I think they are doing well.”
Megan Wright shares Barnard’s attitude towards the college’s handling of COVID-19. As a junior, Wright said that she can remember when the dining commons were self-serve instead of by order, like it is now. “Making the DC (dining commons) give to-go meals works well I think,” said Wright. She is optimistic that the college should be able to remain open through the fall and says that, “It can only go up from here.” A rising number in cases also does not cause Wright any serious concern, as she said, “We’ve been handling it.” Overall, she is satisfied with how the college is performing during a pandemic, saying, “I think they’ve done the best they could; the routine we have made works.”
Among those holding out hope for the end of semester is Keene State College President Melinda Treadwell. “I’m pretty cautiously optimistic, given this week’s results, that we can [stay open],” said Treadwell. She is aware that cases are rising and she said she is prepared to close the college if that becomes necessary. “I won’t hesitate to do it if our numbers climb to a level where we just aren’t sure, and we need to keep people safe,” said Treadwell. However, she does not want the semester to end this way, “It would be devastating at this point in the year to go entirely uninterrupted and not be able to finish.” No matter what outcome, Treadwell said, “My primary obligation is to our students and to the communities around us. COVID is still here.”
Kelly Ricaurte, Director of Strategic Communication and Community Relations, said that she is also hopeful that the college can make it the end of the semester. “I am hopeful we can make it to the end of the semester, I am so proud of what we’ve done all year,” she said. “If we can just stick it out for the next two weeks and go home healthy, we will have accomplished something amazing,” said Ricaurte.
While Keene State has reopened its facilities after a recent spike, Ricaurte warns that, although we are close to the end of the semester, COVID-19 can still affect us, “Two weeks is not a long time to finish the semester, but it is ample time to spread the virus.”
Ben Field can be contacted at: