Consistent with what is being seen throughout the nation and across Idaho and the Treasure Valley, NNU announced Tuesday that they have also recently experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases within their campus community. Thirty-five NNU community members have been diagnosed as COVID-19 positive or probable since November 3.
“We know we are not immune to this global pandemic and we can expect that the trends in our larger community will be reflected on our campus,” Dr. Bryon Hemphill, director of NNU’s Health Services said. “Although we are concerned for each individual impacted, we are pleased that the procedures we have in place have allowed us to keep the numbers of those who are positive, probable and/or quarantined at manageable levels.”
The vast majority of the cases from the past week were identified through NNU’s campus-wide asymptomatic weekly saliva screening. This has allowed the Health Services staff to identify and support individuals who are impacted early and help mitigate the spread of the virus.
Despite these efforts and continued evidence that the saliva screening is working to help the university identify infected individuals early, a continued increase in cases over the weekend in the surrounding community and on campus has led NNU’s Senior Leadership Team, after discussion with Southwest District Health, to take a proactive step to try and slow the spread of the virus by issuing a week-long “stay-in-place” directive.
“We know we are dealing with an ever-changing virus that is now infecting thousands each week throughout our state --and we know we have no control over that,” said NNU President Joel Pearsall. “We can only control how we respond. We are committed to prioritizing the health and safety of our campus community while simultaneously ensuring our students receive the quality education they deserve, which is why we have made the decision to take more aggressive intervention measures at this time.”
The “Stay-in-Place” directive has been issued to run from Wednesday, Nov. 11 through end-of-day Tuesday, Nov. 17. During this time:
- All instruction will be delivered remotely
- Residential students will be asked to limit their movement around campus and will remain in their residential halls or apartments as much as possible, except to retrieve meals and for outdoor exercise; non-residential local students will be asked to limit their non-essential social engagements and practice increased caution in their workplaces
- All employees who are able to work remotely will do so and will limit time on campus
- Campus visitors and vendors will be further restricted
- All community members who are residing or working on campus will participate in daily saliva screening
According to Pearsall, “We believe this action is an appropriate next step to slow the spread of the virus on campus so that we can return to face-to-face instruction and finish our semester strong, and is our best defense in supporting both our campus and the larger community.”
In person classes are scheduled to resume Wednesday, Nov. 18 and will run through Wednesday, Nov. 25 when Thanksgiving break begins. Following Thanksgiving break, students will have the choice to complete the semester remotely.
While a few NNU community members have experienced more severe "flu-like" symptoms, the majority have had minor symptoms and, to date, none have needed hospitalization. Updates will continue to be provided at nnu.edu/fall2020.