This week a sudden positive case of COVID-19 at Clark University’s campus alarmed the Clark community. Unlike most previous cases, this COVID-19 case was contracted by a student in Bullock Hall which caused some students to express safety concerns on-campus.
“As for my personal safety I am a little worried, but I’m trying my best to manage it,” said Will Talbot (‘22), concerned about these recent events and the virus outbreak.
As of Monday, October 12, the Healthy Clark Dashboard reported four new positive tests within the past month. The transparency from Clark’s administration made many Bullock Hall Residential Advisors like Osborne Munyambu (‘22), optimistic about the future.
“I was very thankful and felt reassured by the transparency shown by the administration,” Osborne said.
“I was thinking back to September when the whole school lost power and the lack of the communication we received from the school about the outage,” Osborne said. “That lack of communication did make the situation crazier than it should have been.”
He continued, “In this case, Clark was more communicative of the situation at play and they effectively managed to quell panic while also informing us so we could take the appropriate measures within the hall.”
One of the key factors in controlling the outbreak was utilizing testing directly after the outbreak occurred. Immediately following confirmation of the case, Director of COVID-19 testing operations, Adam Keyes, sent out an email to all Bullock Hall residents, informing them to get tested within the next day. Keyes wrote in the email that “out of an abundance of caution, we urge all residents of Bullock Hall to get tested tomorrow as early as possible at Clark’s COVID-19 testing facilities in the Kneller Athletic Center”.
Three days later, Keyescontacted students again informing them that no Bullock Hall residents tested positive for the coronavirus. This put several Bullock Hall residents at ease. “I feel perfectly safe in Bullock Hall,” said Ben Jacobson (‘24).
At the same time, first-year student Layla Knight (‘24) expressed some of her own concerns on the implications that the virus outbreak could have had. “There was no monitoring or requests for students to stay in. A lot of students were just leaving and coming into the hall, interacting with halls that also had cases,” Knight stated.
She continued adding that “At the same time though, they did at least let us know that we should do daily testing, while also clearing out the room that was infected.”
Following the resolution of the case, many students discussed their feelings regarding the virus. “I do feel safe on campus,” said Nicholas Slaughter (‘21). “I’m very glad that Clark is doing everything they can to keep us all safe.”
Similarly, many student-athletes also felt reassured by the news, including David Henriques (‘22). “I feel safe because Clark took swift action on this issue,” Henriques said.
As of October 12, Clark University has conducted a total of 49,879 COVID-19 tests of students and administrative personnel on-campus. Despite this, some students at Bullock Hall still feel distressed about the very real threat of COVID-19 both on-campus and in the surrounding area.
“I had one student come to me the other day worried about her roommate contracting COVID-19 when she took a trip home to visit her family,” Residential Advisor Osborne Munyambu (‘22) stated.
“I made sure to alleviate her fears, while also listening to her concerns and putting myself in her perspective,” Munyambu said.
Munyambu continued, “It’s the small interactions that really make a difference with a lot of the stress that the first-years have endured through their senior years of high school and having to be socially engaged in this COVID-era at Clark… I will continue to serve as that resource for those of us who are worried while continuing to ensure that Clark’s guidelines are being followed.”
The recent case of COVID-19 in Bullock Hall should remind us all to not become complacent. Following safety protocols listed by Clark University is critical in ensuring that we continue to have a safe and healthy fall semester as well as moving forward. This means constantly washing your hands, maintaining six feet distance between yourself and your peers, and wearing a mask on-campus at all times. By following these simple steps, we can help keep our school and local community safe from future outbreaks.