Carroll increases COVID testing after weekend spike in student cases

Posted at 6:38 PM, Oct 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-14 20:57:05-04

HELENA — Carroll College is taking steps to curb COVID-19 cases after an outbreak in the student body.

Six new COVID-19 positive cases involving Carroll College students were reported over the weekend, bringing the total confirmed cases to 14 for the fall semester. The students are believed to have contracted the virus off campus.

“Luckily we had already had some things in place, and one of those things is we were doing testing on Monday and Tuesday where any asymptomatic student could get tested,” said Carroll College Vice President Chato Hazelbaker.

Carroll tested around 500 students on Monday and Tuesday. Early results have begun to come in with additional positive cases being identified. The college is waiting to give a full update until all results of the testing have come back, and students can be notified.

Some cases have been associated with athletics programs at the college, but Carroll says that’s to be expected given around a third of their students participate in athletics.

The Hunthausen Activity Center will be closed until at least Monday, Oct. 19. Athletic practices and workouts, with the exception of cross country track, have been suspended out of caution.

“Any place where students get together in close proximity where there’s a lot of contact, we just want to make sure because we are seeing an increase in cases that we’re being really cautious on what that looks like,” said Hazelbaker. “As these cases come in from Monday and Tuesday we’ll be able to see where we’re actually at in this situation and what additional measures we need to put in place.”

Hazelbaker says the next 14 days will be critical for flattening the curve in the Carroll population.

All students, faculty, and staff are asked to limit their number of off-campus trips and contacts to necessary medical appointments, work or trips to obtain food. Faculty and staff non-instructional meetings are also being held in a virtual format until further notice.

Carroll is also expected to ramp up testing in the coming week in order to any other potential COVID cases at the school. More on-campus testing for students will be available, and the school will be requiring testing for specific populations that have high community contact.

The new cases are the first reported of Carroll students contracting the virus while at school this fall. All previous cases were associated with students coming in at the beginning of the semester.

COVID impacted students will be quarantining and conducting remote learning until they are cleared to return to class.