Ripon College hosts COVID-19 testing event for students

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 4:35 PM CDT
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RIPON, Wis. (WBAY) - Ripon College hasn’t seen a spike of COVID-19 cases on campus so far this semester. But a day-long testing event is meant to give the college a clear picture of potential asymptomatic cases.

“So we’re testing our entire student body, all the students who live here on campus,” said Ripon College President Zach Messitte.

Messitte says until recently, they didn’t have enough tests for all students, so only those who appeared symptomatic for COVID-19 got one.

But now the college has enough supply to test potentially asymptomatic students.

“It also makes sense right now given the increase in positive cases in Fond du Lac County and in Wisconsin,” said Messitte.

“That question of whether there’s asymptomatic spreaders out there, that’s the piece we haven’t been able to dig into,” said Andrea Young, Vice President of Finance and Director of Strategic Initiatives at Ripon College.

So far the college has only had about a dozen confirmed cases since the semester began. Young believes their smaller campus size brings some advantages.

“We have such a strong community here that the students have really bought into this notion of keep each other healthy, that we’re doing this for everyone,” said Young.

Plus, she says they can respond quickly when they do get a positive test.

“When a student comes into the health services with symptoms we contact trace them immediately, so that if they get a positive test 48 hours later we already know who needs to be quarantined because they were close contact,” said Young.

Moving forward the college will randomly select 10 percent of its residential students each week to get another round of testing.

“So that we get some sort of statistical baseline to see whether our numbers are more or less holding,” said Messitte.

Faculty hope the information they gain will allow them to make the best health decisions.

“That’s what’s paramount here. keeping our students as safe as they possibly can be,” said Messitte.

“We really are looking at this as the right time, especially given the cases we’re seeing in the county, the cases we’re seeing even here in Ripon, the Town of Ripon,” said Young. “We want to make sure we have the best information possible so we can make the best decisions as a leadership team.”

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