By: Kat Peterson, For The Clock
In response to an unexpected rise in COVID-19 cases this week, Plymouth State University hosted a virtual meeting at Town Hall on February 17th to provide further information on what this means for the rest of the semester. The webinar presenters were President Donald Birx, VP for Communications Marlin Collingwood, VP for Finance and Administration Tracy Claybaugh, VP for Academic Affairs Ann McClellan, and Director of Environmental Health andSafety Katie Caron.
From February 12th to February 17th Coronavirus cases jumped from 29 to 174 total active cases at Plymouth State. Given this increase in positive cases, classes are remote until February 28th, 2021 and will resume in person Monday March 1st, 2021. Donald Birx stated “in hope to keep cases low in the classroom, buildings will be provided with air flow filters that will block the virus”. This will hopefully ease the nerves of those worried about social contact.
One question that arose during this meeting was ‘should people be double masking?’ In response, Dr. Birx, replied “if you feel air leaking out at the top of the mask that means particle movement can come in as well as out, so it’s just important to keep a tight fit.” Another important question asked was ‘how long does a close contact have to quarantine?’ Dr. Birx responded, “if you test negative after exposure after day five, six, or seven, you can track your symptoms”.
Following this response, Marlin Collingwood asked Dr. Birx, what his thoughts are that “based around current events in New Hampshire and around the U.S it is speculated that life should go back to normal around August or September”. Dr. Brix replied “I think what really matters right now is CDC sequencing these variants to figure out is it more transmissible? What are its characteristics? Does it still respond to our therapeutics and vaccines? Your contribution to that is very important. My feeling is, until we get to immunity across the United States, and until we know we can vaccinate children safely, the fall experience may be dramatically different, but it all depends on the rate these vaccines can be delivered.”
PSU faculty continue to work hard to help decrease spread of the virus and are aware of gatherings above the recommended number. “Student and community members have been very diligent in contacting faculty if they know or think something is happening and we are working very hard to monitor that” says Collingwood. It is our job to keep the community safe, as well as ourselves, and if we follow proper guidelines, we can stop the spread and can continue on with our education.