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14 students in one dorm test positive in COVID outbreak

Washington College

CHESTERTOWN — Three additional students have tested positive in a cohort outbreak of COVID-19 on campus that initially was reported last week, a Washington College spokesperson confirmed Tuesday, Feb. 23.

That brings the total number of students infected with the coronavirus to 14 in a dorm of 42 students, said Kelley Wallace, the college's public and media relations director.

She said all the cases have been reported to the Kent County Health Department.

A cohort outbreak is defined as five or more related COVID cases within a 14-day period.

All the infected students have been placed in designated isolation housing per established protocols, and the remaining students are in quarantine for up to 14 days.

The quarantine went into effect 8 p.m. Feb. 12.

Students were given the option to return home for the quarantine period or remain in place in the dorm. 

Wallace said about half of the students chose to go home.

Until cleared, on-campus students in quarantine are to remain in their suite. Meals, mail, library materials and other necessities will be delivered. They can sign up for daily outdoor exercise to be done under the supervision of college staff.

Students who chose to leave campus were required to complete paperwork that provided details on where they would be for their quarantine and acknowledged that the family members in the residence were aware of and accepted the risks associated with having contact.

Any student leaving campus is required to quarantine for a full 14 days and must provide a negative COVID test result from within 72 hours of their return date.

All students who remained on campus for this quarantine were tested on Feb. 16. The results came back Feb. 18 with three additional positive cases, Wallace said.

The dorm, which houses male and female students, has been reclassified to the campus Red Alert level.

In a Feb. 16 news release, the college reported there had been 11 positive COVID cases — all linked to one residence hall. Some of the students were symptomatic and others were identified during mandatory biweekly surveillance testing.

Wallace said there has been no spread beyond the dorm already under quarantine.

The first wave of students who tested positive were to be released from isolation on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

"If there are no new positives, the entire quarantine should be lifted Friday, Feb. 26," Wallace said in a telephone interview Tuesday night.

The college's Health Services staff has been in contact with the students who chose to quarantine at home. Most of them are expected to return to campus this weekend, Wallace said.

Because the outbreak is confined to a specific residence hall, the college continues to operate at a Yellow Alert level overall. Everyone on campus should wear face masks both indoors and outdoors and continue to observe social distancing (6 feet or more apart) both indoors and outdoors.

The visitor policy for the spring semester states that permitted visitors to campus are those whose presence is essential to the operations of the college. They must register, complete a health screening and comply with the mask policy.

The bookstore, library, dining hall and athletic facilities are restricted to members of the campus community.

Vehicular traffic also is restricted.

Pedestrian traffic is allowed throughout the campus grounds, but anyone walking on campus must comply with the mask requirement and will not be allowed to access any facilities.

Resources for Marylanders and employees during COVID-19

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Paycheck Protection Program Loan (PPPL) FAQ - 

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