Students at Western Kentucky University return to campus on Tuesday for the start of the spring semester, and they’re being asked to follow the same coronavirus safety measures that were in place for the fall semester.
David Oliver, Emergency Manager at WKU, said masks, reduced class sizes and enhanced cleaning have worked well over the past several months. Oliver said the school’s COVID-19 numbers stayed relatively flat throughout the fall semester while positive cases in the community were rising.
“We didn’t have anybody who said, 'I know I got it in this classroom' or 'I know I got in from this lab','" said Oliver. "We had no cases between the health department or others that traced back to one of the academic settings.”
This semester, the university has boosted the number of contact tracers and staff for the COVID assistance line. Testing opportunities have also been expanded to the weekends. The Graves Gilbert health clinic on campus will now offer testing from 8 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturdays and Sundays.
With a vaccine now available, Oliver is warning against complacency and said even if someone has received their initial injection, another dose is required before gaining immunity. Most college students will be among the last to get immunized under the state's vaccination plan.
WKU has canceled Spring Break, but Acting Provost Cheryl Stevens said in a recent campus email that face-to-face final exams, at least to some degree, will be allowed.
According to the university's online COVID-19 dashboard, the school has recorded just over 1,000 cases of of the virus since July 1. That total only includes confirmed tests completed for WKU students and employees by Graves Gilbert Clinic at WKU and Med Center Health.