SPU adjusts quarantine, isolation protocols

Previous quarantine for COVID-19 protocols affected over 100 students on campus, SPU ranks low compared to other Seattle colleges

Emma Brown, Staff Reporter

The Office of Student Life announced revisions of quarantine protocols and practices on Sept. 13, 2020 through an email sent to students living on campus.

Seattle Pacific University has seen five floors in the dormitory quarantined so far in the 2020-21 school year.

“We’ve had over 100 students who have been impacted by quarantining, and we’ve only had four students who have tested positive,” Chuck Strawn, Dean of Students for Community Life, said.

When a student reports symptoms of COVID-19 those who have been in close contact with them, such as their residence hall floor, will no longer be required to quarantine until test results are received. Additionally, the symptomatic student will have to be isolated in one of the units on campus.

“If the test comes out positive, the student is isolated and we continue to care for their health and help them to ride through their circumstances, and then the floor would be quarantined for 10-14 days depending on what the circumstances are the guidance we have from our health center,” Strawn said of the new process.

Previously when students showed symptoms of COVID-19, the individual would be isolated and the floor would be put into quarantine. Strawn explained that because this process impacted many people, it discouraged students from reporting symptoms.

“[Students] don’t want to end up in a situation where they inadvertently get their floor quarantined or have their friends end up being isolated while we’re still exploring things,” Strawn said. “They don’t want to get help for themselves because they don’t want to impact other people.”

Another revision announced in the email was that those who have been in close proximity to a student showing symptoms, either through living spaces or places where contact tracing is taking place, will be notified of the situation.

These processes may be adjusted for individual cases, but their main purpose is to provide a guide for students to understand how the university will respond to most cases, Strawn said.

According to data from the New York Times and several college’s websites, SPU ranks on the lower end of COVID cases at colleges in the Seattle area since the beginning of the pandemic. The University of Washington Seattle campus is at the top of the list with 604 cases, while Seattle University has 28, Edmonds College has 9, and most other colleges in the area, including SPU, have six or fewer cases.