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The Student’s weekly check-in with Christine Johnston

Garrett Cote

After a rather discouraging and disheartening week in terms of positive coronavirus testing outputs, the Springfield College COVID-19 testing team would not be surprised to see another week of double digit positive tests.

According to an email from Patrick Love to the campus community, last week saw 10 positive tests on Monday, 17 on Tuesday, 7 on Wednesday, and 5 on Thursday. By Friday morning, 80 students were in supported isolation or quarantine housing, which accounts for 38 percent of the school’s capacity to house people.

Christine Johnston, Assistant Director of Campus Recreation, Alcohol and Drug Education and Health Promotion at Springfield College, can confirm that the warm and sunny Saint Patrick’s Day weekend played a role in the recent COVID-19 spike on campus. 

Considering those who were contact traced the week after Saint Patrick’s Day weekend are still in quarantine, Johnston shares that she expects some of them will test positive during testing this week. 

“It’s really hard to say [if positive cases will increase or decrease this week],” Johnston offered. 

“Our testing from last Monday and Tuesday really presented a lot of cases. We know a lot of folks in quarantine are coming to get tested Monday the 29th, so we could see a spike in cases when we get those test results back.”

Johnston also stated that there have not necessarily been wrongdoings within those who are testing positive.

“The spike doesn’t necessarily say that we’re doing anything wrong; it is what quarantine is for after all. For students who have been identified as close contacts and have to quarantine, we’re just asking them to make sure they follow the rules, so if they do end up converting to positive tests, they don’t spread the virus and give it to someone else.”

One other idea that Johnston asks the Springfield College community to ponder is limiting off campus travel. Unless there is a valid reason for leaving the campus – jobs, internships or other personal responsibilities – she would like students to really limit things such as going to restaurants, bars, traveling to other institutions, etc. 

“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” began Johnston. “Just because the state has opened up indoor dining and allowed some leeway for other activities, doesn’t mean that we should do it. We are in the home stretch, it’s the start of April this week, we are almost there. We just have to hold it together for another five or six weeks.”

Johnston also brought up that this coming weekend hosts two important holidays, and that a handful of students will likely be heading home to spend it with family. Although that is completely fine and understandable, Johnston emphasized the importance of keeping circles tight when travelling home for the weekend. 

“Students need to be really thoughtful about who they are spending time with over the weekend. If they’re going home to celebrate Easter or Passover, we encourage them to spend time with family, as opposed to friends who may go to other institutions. They can do that in six weeks [when they’re home for the summer],” Johnston said.

Yes, it is hard to isolate and meet each and every guideline. However, Johnston is certain that if there is one institution that can do just that, if there is one institution that can persevere and make it to May, it’s Springfield College. 

“I know it’s hard work and frustrating [following the guidelines and regulations], but if there is one community that can come together and do it, it’s the Springfield College community,” lauded Johnston. 

One particular group of people within the Springfield College community that gets overlooked for their hard work and determination are those who are working behind the scenes to ensure the necessities of those in supported isolation/quarantine are being met. 

Johnston shed light on how much the students and staff on campus appreciate those who are dropping off food, checking in with students, as well as those who clean and prepare the rooms for people who are placed in quarantine. 

Photo: Springfield College

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