By Carley Crain
With the winter months approaching, the cold temperatures are playing a role in students getting sick. According to Medicalnewstoday, colds may spread more easily in lower temperatures. In the past 30 days, Springfield College has seen an increase in the number of both COVID and flu cases, but this change was somewhat expected by the college.
“Our numbers aren’t unexpected given the rise in COVID cases — not only here in Hampden County, but across the state and throughout the country. There is nothing too alarming at this time,” said Director of the Health Center, Kathleen Hogan-Soltys.
With the new Omicron variant and the holiday season approaching, COVID cases across the country and in Massachusetts are rising. For those who are fully vaccinated, the risk of hospitalization or having serious symptoms are unlikely, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
“Our biggest surges have come after periods of time where students went home, like with Thanksgiving. Many students might have had direct contact with family members who were positive,” said Hogan-Soltys.
Students are now eligible for COVID booster shots, which the College highly encourages students to get and could mandate in the upcoming months. A large population of the school being vaccinated, Hogan explained, will help keep cases low on campus. Most students who have tested positive that are vaccinated on campus have only dealt with mild symptoms this semester. The college has also observed that students who do test positive have chosen to go home and quarantine, since many family members of theirs are vaccinated and are at low risk of contracting the virus.
“Overall, our students — or anyone that is testing positive — are having very mild symptoms and are fully recovering during that 10-day isolation period,” said Hogan-Soltys.
Hogan also mentioned that close contacts of positive cases have remained negative this semester, which is a sign that the high rates of vaccinations are working on campus.
“Last semester we had more clusters and larger groups that tested positive for COVID all at the same time,” explained Hogan. “I can only assume that this is due to our high rates of COVID vaccinations.”
Students testing positive for Influenza A has also been trending upward, as many of these students did not receive their flu shot. Even though the College has not mandated the flu vaccine for students and staff, Hogan highly encourages everyone to get vaccinated.
The Health Center currently has weekly testing available for all students, regardless of vaccination status. After winter break, all residential students are required to get tested in order to move into the dorms. Any change to current policies, like having off campus guests and visitors, will be evaluated at the beginning of the winter semester once the college is aware of the current landscape of COVID on campus.
Photo Courtesy Springfield College