Westminster College confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 among students following the first week of school. However, not all students are residential.
This comes after several news organizations reported coronavirus cases on college campuses, citing two students among the residence halls at Westminster. This information was attributed to the Salt Lake County Health Department, which did not immediately respond to comment.
The college responded Saturday, clarifying “not all” students who tested positive were residential.
“I believe the health department assumed any positive case reported from Student Health Services is a residential student,” said Arikka Von, director of strategic communications at Westminster, to The Forum. “That’s not true as we’re testing residential and commuter students, as well as some employees.”
The college reported two COVID-19 cases in the last week, as well as a positive case earlier in August. All three cases were asymptomatic, according to Von.
It’s not immediately clear how many of the positive cases are attributed to residential students, as Westminster isn’t releasing demographic information.
Von confirmed all positive cases on campus are isolated — with designated housing spaces available for all residential students who test positive. Anyone who is exposed to a positive case must quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus.
“On-campus rapid testing isolated these cases quickly, and potentially-exposed contacts then quarantined,” Von said. “The college wants to emphasize the critical importance of physical distancing and wearing a face covering on campus. Not either/or. Do both.”
All residential students were required to test negative for the coronavirus at least 96 hours prior to move-in.
The Student Health Services office on campus is providing free COVID testing for all students — commuter and residential — and for employees who require a test for their role.
Individuals will be contacted if they’ve had potential exposure to someone who has tested positive, and campus-wide threats will be communicated through the college’s emergency notification system.
“Distancing is just as important as wearing a mask,” Von said. “A 20 minute coffee break with a friend sitting too close could equal quarantine.”