Ripon College had its first positive COVID-19 test last week Thursday according to an email sent to the campus.
The email noted that the student agreed to return home for isolation and that contract tracing has begun. Some students also were placed in quarantine as a result.
Since then, two more people have tested positive based on the college’s COVID-19 dashboard, which is updated every Monday and can be viewed at www.ripon.edu/coronovirus-information/.
The dashboard also noted 21% of isolation beds are in use.
The positive tests comes after what the college described as irresponsible behavior during the weekend of Aug. 22-23.
“We write to the student body today to express our deep concern and disappointment in the behavior of a number of students who attended social gatherings where physical distancing and mask requirements were not followed this past weekend,” Ripon College President Zach Messitte wrote in the email. “These students blatantly disregarded the public health situation, the college’s regulations and have potentially put the safety of other students, faculty, staff and the community in jeopardy.”
He added Ripon College demands that students follow room limits, physical distancing requirements and wear masks, nothing that it is not a negotiable issue.
Students returned to the Ripon College campus for the first time since the pandemic broke out in mid-March the weekend of Aug. 14 to 16, with classes starting Aug. 17.
As part of their return, they had to sign a campus safety pledge that required them to follow safety protocols.
“The Reunite Ripon plan, which took a tremendous amount of time, effort and money to put together over the past several months, allowed all of us to return to in-person classes this fall,” Messitte told the campus in the email. “Many colleges and universities chose to remain online and others have already closed or suspended in-person classes due to outbreaks of the coronavirus. The success of the Reunite Ripon plan relies on student cooperation to help mitigate the spread of the virus.”
The email went on to note that “the Residence Life staff received a number of first-hand accounts from students about their peers not abiding by the college’s policies” and that “concerned students, faculty, staff and members of the community are rightfully asking that we address the violations with a stern response.”
Among the actions the college took as a result of the behavior from Aug. 22 to 23 included significant monetary fines, disciplinary probations, referrals to the Student Judiciary Board and loss of lounge privileges.
It added that moving forward, students who host or attend a “gathering with room capacity violations and/or mask violations will be subject to suspension from the college and/or loss of co-curricular activity participation.”
While some students behaved irresponsibly and put the college and the community at risk, Messitte applauded the students who are trying to keep everyone safe.
“We appreciate those of you who have followed procedures and policies while being true to your word and commitment in the pledge that each of you signed before returning to campus,” Messitte said in the email.