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College to restrict access to campus; still no word on student's COVID-19 test

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CHESTERTOWN — It has been nine days since a Washington College student's COVID-19 test was received at a private lab and still there is no word on the results, according to an update on the college website.

The student's specimen to be tested for the novel coronavirus was received at Quest Lab, which is where results are pending, Washington College reported on its web page Monday, March 23.

College officials say part of the delay is being attributed to a backlog of cases at the first lab, ARUP Laboratories, which then directed the test to Quest Lab.

In its update Monday, the college reported that the student — who was discharged from the hospital here last week — appears to be in good health and good spirits. He is passing the time by Skyping with family and friends, binging on Netflix and, like hundreds of Washington students, logged into the online platform Canvas to resume his coursework.

After extending spring break for a week, Washington transitioned to remote-only instruction beginning Monday.

Students have been told they must be off campus by the end of the month.

As of Monday, March 23, there were fewer than 70 students remaining on campus. Many of them have plans to leave within the next couple of days, the college reported.

A small number of students who cannot return home will remain on campus through the end of the semester.

The student who may, or may not, have contracted the novel coronavirus was hospitalized March 13 for flu-like symptoms after traveling out of state to an area with confirmed cases of community-transmitted COVID-19, according to college officials.

He was discharged from the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Chestertown on Thursday, March 19.

Meantime, his close friend and traveling companions remain in isolation and are symptom free, according to the college's update posted Monday.

As federal, state and local governments put into place increasingly stringent measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, Washington College is ramping up measures to safeguard the health and welfare of its students, faculty, staff and neighbors.

Most faculty and staff are working remotely, and access to campus buildings has been restricted to those who have permission to be there.

To protect the remaining students and essential employees who must be on site to provide campus services to all students, Washington College is restricting vehicular access to campus. Barriers are being installed this week at three of the four campus entrances, directing all traffic to use the northern entrance at Greenwood Avenue. Those without authorization to be on campus will be turned away.

The Counseling Center’s physical offices are closed, but the staff continue to work via telephone and email to support students. To schedule a tele-counseling appointment, call 410-778-7261 or email Miranda Altman.

Some students now learning remotely face additional challenges, ranging from food insecurity to poor internet connectivity, according to college officials.

The Student Engagement Office is conducting a survey to assess students’ critical needs for food, technology or other assistance, and College Advancement has launched a COVID-19 Response Fund to help students get what they need to be successful through the end of the term.

Considering Gov. Hogan’s announcement Monday, March 23 to close non-essential businesses, the college's Emergency Operations Group noted the importance of minimizing the number of individuals on campus. To that end, the hotline will be discontinued and a voicemail recording will direct callers to use the shared email box, which will be monitored by several staff.

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