Campus COVID-19 response evolves


Chris Ferman

A close-up of a COVID-19 at home test kit.

Feven Zewdu and Brett Kuras

Editor’s Note: This story has been modified from its original version. This article previously referred to the COVID-19 dashboard which is no longer in use. The error has since been corrected.

COVID-19 has impacted Augustana significantly in the last two years, but with vaccines and weaker strains of the virus, the campus has mainly returned to its pre-COVID-19 measures. However, this does not mean the disease has disappeared or stopped disrupting those who become infected or affected by it. 

Wes Brooks, vice president and dean of Student Life, was on the front lines during COVID-19’s peak. He was often seen making public health announcements for students, staff and faculty. 

Since the virus hasn’t been as relevant, the campus has seen less and less of COVID-19’s impact, leaving students, staff and faculty with more of a personal accountability.

“As of right now, it’s more of that personal responsibility for students, and even faculty and staff on campus that if you have tested positive and know you’ve been in close contact, that you’d certainly communicate that to those individuals through kind of personal responsibility,” Brooks said.

Chris Beyer, director of residential life, was in charge when the campus was slammed with COVID-19 cases. Beyer oversaw changes by helping students relocate who had tested positive or were in close contact. Since the virus has calmed down for many, he said he believes COVID-19 will become endemic.

“I think COVID is sort of here to stay, much like the flu, the common cold or RSP or any number of respiratory illnesses,” Beyer said.

While Beyer believes that COVID-19 is here to stay, he does acknowledge that it is still here and students, staff and faculty need to stay alert.

“With the student body, general caution should be taken,” Beyer said. “I think most common sense still applies, and we’re not at the point of as many people wearing masks or avoiding groups or anything like that. It’s really individual responsibility.”

According to Brooks, several reports of students testing positive have occurred recently.

“15 cases I believe in the last three weeks,” Brooks said. 

While there has been a small uptick in cases on campus, Beyer said there is no reason to worry.

“The number looks big, but it was still far lower than what we’re dealing with on a routine basis the last two years. So it’s not at the point of us having, like, a major concern, or needing to take major action, or to make system-wide recommendations,” Beyer said.

While Augustana has loosened their rules for COVID-19, they still recommend to take a test and wear a mask if you are feeling sick or have been exposed to a case. Additionally, they say to call public safety if you test positive and care for those around you, as this virus is still prevalent.