Most students enrolled at Gettysburg College are now being sent home for the semester following several students testing positive for COVID-19, university leaders announced Friday.
All students except freshmen, transfer, and international students, as well as student teachers with placements in local schools, are being sent home. Approximately 900 will remain on campus and 1,300 will leave in order for the school to “de-densify.”
Students being sent home will continue with remote, online learning for the rest of the semester, a message from President Robert Iuliano explained Friday.
“Sixty-four cases in a little more than a week must give us all considerable concern,” wrote Iuliano. “It threatens to outstrip our ability to house and quarantine students, as well as our contact-tracing capacity. We are beginning to see symptomatic students.”
Classes will also be paused as some students leave and others are reassigned new housing. Students remaining on campus now receive “their own residence” as the number of students on campus is greatly reduced.
President Iuliano also provided a video message of the “de-densification” announcement.
Friday’s announcement followed one week of mandatory quarantine order first prompted after several people enrolled at the school tested positive for COVID-19.
Students began quarantine at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept.1 after an announcement from Gettysburg officials citing the recent spread of coronavirus on their Adams County campus.
It required that students at the Pennsylvania school do not leave their rooms except to go to the restroom, pick up food, go to the doctor, or speak with a counselor.
By Tuesday, already 25 out of 348 students that were tested received a positive COVID-19 result. Officials said in their announcement that most cases were the result of “clustered incidents” that “were connected to certain affinity groups or social gatherings.”
A message posted on the website of the college signed by Dean of Students Julie Ramsey also warned that any students caught breaking the mandatory quarantine order would be sent home.
“We understand that a residential restriction will not be easy and that the current situation on campus is not what any of us had in mind when we decided to return residentially,” wrote Dean Ramsey. “The days ahead will be challenging, and we’ve heard from you about the challenges you are experiencing with the restrictions that are already in place.”
The quarantine gave officials time to reassess the continuation of in-person classes for the semester.
“This interim all-student quarantine allows us to better understand the path of the virus on campus, informed by the results of the remainder of this week’s tests,” wrote Ramsey. “Based on the entirety of the information before us, we will assess how we should best proceed as a community.”
Officials ultimately decided in-person classes would not continue for the majority of students.