Simpson transitions back into orange phase, hints at random testing

by Amelia Schafer, News Editor

Nearly two weeks ago, the Simpson College Crisis Management Team (CMT) made the call to move back to the orange phase after an uptick of cases on campus. 

In the same email, the CMT also hinted at plans to implement random testing in the spring. Going into next semester, Levine alluded to the possibility of randomized COVID-19 testing for all students, not just athletes. 

“We are very actively discussing what that might look like and what percentage of not only the student body but faculty and staff because again it’s not just our students who are at risk of not only contracting COVID but spreading COVID so not anybody who comes to campus is,” Levine said. “So, we are talking about what percentage would be testing, what would the logistics of that look like. We will also be watching what is continuing to happen around us.”

The moodle check-ins will also remain for next semester, allowing for a two-week examination of students before their scheduled return. 

“If there are students who are reporting symptoms, you know two days before they were supposed to return, it gives us the chance to talk with them and say okay this is what you need to do and that may involve delaying returning to campus,” Levine said. “By putting random testing in place on campus, that would give us the opportunity to be monitoring as we go along. What is the state of the campus and to be making decisions based on that.” 

The college had remained in yellow for nearly two months, with a steady number of cases throughout. In the days following Halloween, cases began to climb on campus, with 28 cases the week after Halloween and 23 cases the following week. 

As of Wednesday, there have been seven cases this week. 

Heidi Levine, Chair of the CMT and Vice President for Student Development & Planning said the team decided to make the call after seeing the uptick in cases the week after Halloween. 

“I would say it was a combination of two things one was seeing that over the prior two weeks there was a definite upward trend in cases in Warren county which is one of the things that we track since obviously what is happening out in the community effects us as well, but the other was that we were seeing a surge of cases on campus,” Levine said. 

Levine stated that the number of students in quarantine was another primary factor behind the move. 

“Each of those cases ranks within a varying number of other primarily students who need to go into quarantine because of close contact,” Levine said. “It was really that combination of the increase in the community but also seeing that echoed on campus.” 

Junior Lindsay Coleman believes the campus should have remained in the modified orange phase the whole semester. 

“It kind of gave everyone who had kept in their partying antics at bay in orange,” Coleman said. “When we went to full-on yellow that kind of dissipated and it was kind of a free for all for everyone.”

Coleman says that she would have preferred to be in the modified orange phase now, as she lives alone and has been nearly isolated since the change.

Coleman said that at the beginning of the semester she didn’t mind being in the full-orange phase. 

“In the beginning, I didn’t really mind it, I didn’t realize how much it bothered me though until we went to yellow, and then I was able to visit upstairs,” Coleman said. “I live in the Kappa sorority house so I could be upstairs in my little’s room. Now not even being able to do that I feel very isolated and I don’t really have the motivation to do anything. I kind of just want to go home at this point.” 

Despite her loneliness, Coleman still believes the school made the right call. 

“For the time being, I’m okay with being in orange,” Coleman said. “Cases are going to keep rising as more people get tested. I also think that even in Warren county the numbers are going to keep rising as they are in the rest of Iowa, it’s not going to stop… The less time I am on campus, the less time I am putting my dad at risk.” 

With only five days of classes remaining before Thanksgiving break, it is unlikely that any other operational phase changes will occur.