As COVID-19 cases rise in the United States, Seventh-day Adventist universities have adopted numerous policies to mitigate its spread among students and faculty.
The United States currently has 12 Adventist universities, all of which are offering some form of in-person classes or labs this semester. These universities have all taken different approaches to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and how to treat confirmed cases.
According to Southern Adventist University’s Director of Records and Advisement Karon Powell, there are currently 2,721 students enrolled at Southern, though some students are off-campus and attending their classes online. As of Oct. 26, there had been 19 resolved positive student cases and three current positive student cases reported on Southern’s website. That translated to 0.8% of students testing positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the Fall Semester of 2020. However, students are not tested unless they fail their daily health screeningS or contact the University Health Center (UHC) and the UHC deems it necessary.
Since Sept. 21, 10% of Oakwood University’s combined student, staff and faculty have been selected at random each Monday to be tested for COVID-19, according to the university’s website. On Sept. 22, the university had 30 positive student COVID-19 cases, which translated to 2.1% of its total student enrollment of 1,422. However, like Southern, not all of those students are on-campus or local. As of Oct. 26, Oakwood reported 10 more positive active student cases on its website, meaning 2.8% of its total student population had tested positive.
As of Oct. 26, Union College reported on its COVID-19 Dashboard that 266 people on campus, both students and employees, had been tested for COVID-19. According to the dashboard, 19 individuals had tested positive with four currently in isolation.
Similar to Southern, Union requires that all employees, students and visitors stop at a health check station each day before entering any campus building, according to its website. At the health check station, students’ body temperatures are checked and those students receive a sticker showing they have been screened. According to Union’s reopening plan, if someone is identified as displaying COVID-19 symptoms, they will be moved into an isolation room, and testing is arranged. However, according to the university website, Union College began offering free COVID-19 walk-in testing on Sept. 8 for students, staff and faculty at the Union College COVID-19 Testing Center.
Walla Walla University also requires that its students receive a health screening each day, according to the university’s website. Every day, students and staff submit a self-evaluation report on the SaferMe app. Before visiting a health check-in station, students and staff take their own temperatures using personal school-provided thermometers provided. Then, they visit a health check-in station to get their temperatures checked a second time and receive health passes to display in their lanyards. According to Walla Walla’s COVID-19 cases webpage, they had five resolved cases amongst students, faculty and staff collectively as of Oct. 26.
Similar to Southern’s Covenant of Care, Andrews University’s Community Covenant of Care is intended to act as a promise between students and faculty with the university. The covenant has three main points of emphasis for students and staff to take care of—“Care for Myself,” “Care for Others” and “Care for Andrews Community.”
To conduct its daily screenings, Andrews utilizes the app “Campus Clear.” With all the measures and precautions taken, Andrews had reported a total of 16 positive student cases as of Oct. 15, according to its Need to Know: October Issue. As per Andrews’ protocol, these students had been placed in isolation. Andrews has an enrollment of 3,171, meaning that 0.5% of students have tested positive.
Kettering College utilizes a COVID-19 Case Action Plan launched in different phases. The college is currently in Phase 2, also known as the “Main Return to Campus Plan.” The plan touches on several points such as social distancing, campus events, visitors policies and athletics.
As of Oct. 26, Kettering College had three confirmed coronavirus cases since the semester began on Aug. 27.
According to their COVID-19 dashboard, La Sierra University has a 56-page detailed reopening plan that is being updated as it reaches different phases of the reopening process. As of Oct. 26, the university had only reported a total of one positive COVID-19 cases presented in a staff member who had already recovered. This can be attributed to the fact that most classes at La Sierra University are strictly being offered online except for medical labs, according to the university website.
Loma Linda University has presented a greater amount of cases on its campus. As of Oct. 19, the university reported a total of 58 positive cases on campus, 23 of which were employee cases and 35 were students. The university’s cumulative COVID-19 cases have been tracked since July 1, 2020. According to its website, the university had 4,500 students enrolled, meaning 0.7% of its student population had tested positive. Additionally, Loma Linda University also conducts a daily screening requirement that all faculty and all students must complete.
Washington Adventist University required its students, faculty and staff to sign a community pledge to demonstrate its faith-based approach to the reopening of school, according to its Virus Response webpage. All students and employees are also required to receive daily health screenings.
Pacific Union College (PUC) resumed classes via remote learning on Sept. 14 with some on-campus exceptions, according to its website. The college has an 80-page reopening plan, with modifications ranging from beds remaining unbunked with roommates sleeping toe-to-toe to the daily health checks required for students on the LiveSafe app.
As of Sept. 29, Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) was planning to operate its classrooms, transportation services and public spaces at 75% capacity when “it is deemed beneficial and can be done safely,” according to its Coronavirus Information webpage. Procedures like daily screenings, social distancing, proper hygiene and consistent use of face coverings would continue to be standard.
Though multiple efforts were made to reach out to Advent Health, WAU, PUC and SWAU concerning their number of COVID-19 cases, administrators were unavailable to comment.