Ripon College changes COVID guidelines

Ripon College Nurse Kathy Welch administers a Johnson & Johnson single dose COVID-19 vaccination to Anna Bauer of Kaukauna during an on-campus clinic last semester.

Question:

How has the first month or so gone at Ripon College amid a resurgence of COVID-19 in the Ripon community?

Answer:

The first month or so of classes at Ripon College has gone fairly well as the campus community was, for the most part, supportive of the college’s vaccination and masking requirements, according to Ripon College President Zach Messitte.

In fact, Ripon College has a vaccination rate of roughly 75% among students and more than 90% among staff, Messitte noted.

While the college requires staff and students to get vaccinated, it does have exemptions for religious and medical concerns, as well as for strong personal beliefs. Individuals who choose not to get vaccinated must be tested regularly for COVID-19.

The college didn’t initially plan to require vaccinations this year, but in mid-July COVID-19 cases began rising in Wisconsin and similar institutions began tweaking their reopening plans to include vaccination and masking requirements, Messitte noted.

At that time, he said Ripon College examined its anticipated vaccination numbers, which were “well below” the herd immunity rate of 70 to 80%.

“We thought it was important to try and get there, and to encourage our student body to get vaccinated, which they largely have,” Messitte said. “But 25% of the student body is not [vaccinated] and that’s a couple hundred students, so we’ve got to be very careful.”

He described the response from the campus community to the vaccination requirement as “generally positive,” noting there were a handful of outspoken individuals who were upset.

However, Messitte said the college is following recommendations from public health leaders at the national, state and local levels, while doing “virtually nothing different” from Ripon College’s peer institutions.

“Continuing to follow the guidance of people who are studying this day in and day out, and who have advanced degrees, as well as respecting the science and following along with the best practices of what our peer institutions are doing, that’s really the best way to go,” he said.

What this means for you:

Messitte praised both staff and students for their efforts to prevent COVID-19 transmission on campus and for being willing to get vaccinated to keep each other healthy.

“This is really about keeping people safe to the best of our ability, not just for ourselves, but for others, too,” he said. “It’s a challenge, but — over the course of the last year and a half — I’ve been really impressed by both our student body and our employees who have gone the extra mile to keep each other safe.”

How to submit:

If you have a question, we want to give you an answer. Send a question, name and contact information to:

Mail: 303 Watson St., Ripon WI 54971, P.O. Box 262, Ripon WI 54971

Email: news@riponpress.com

Written By

Joe Schulz served as the reporter of the Green Laker in 2019 and 2020, before being hired as a reporter for the Commonwealth in October 2020. He is from Oshkosh and graduated from UW-Oshkosh in December with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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