All 35 tests came back negative for individuals exposed to a student with COVID-19 on the Cleveland State Community College campus earlier this month, according to President Dr. Bill Seymour.
The student tested positive on June 2 and notified campus officials immediately, Seymour said. The school pinpointed the second floor of the science building as the point of exposure and subsequently closed it down. They also informed those who may have been exposed to the on-campus case and asked they get tested.
When all tests came back negative, Seymour said it was a testament to the precautions Cleveland State has taken since reopening for summer classes.
The CSCC president's comments came during a virtual session of the Bradley Sunrise Rotary Club.
Since May 26, Cleveland State has been open to students and the public, but with restrictions. In addition to mandating visitors to wear face coverings, visitors are asked questions about symptoms and personal exposure. At several checkpoints throughout Cleveland State, tables are set up to enforce mask-wearing and social distancing as well.
The exposure was the first reported case on Cleveland State’s campus since Tennessee’s first reported case in Davidson County on March 5.
The building was disinfected and closed for the duration of the student’s quarantine period, which began June 2 and ended June 16.
Seymour said, “The fact that no one tested positive is exactly why we’re doing what we’re doing right now.”
As a result of the virus, Cleveland State is also facing some budget reductions.
Seymour shared that the Tennessee government asked the college to “experiment” with a 12% budget decrease, eliminating around $1.8 million in revenue and a number of jobs.
Seymour said he was relieved to later hear that a 5% decrease was likely more appropriate, resulting in around $300,000 in lost revenue.
A large portion of the college’s revenue is given by the state’s endowment that covers student tuition, he said, but the college was experiencing a 20% loss in student applications, a serious downtrend in enrollment.
“I think part of the problem was that people weren’t sure what steps we were taking, so we tried to be proactive about that and come out with guidance,” he said. “In doing that, I think that helped people who were on the fence.”
Cleveland State is now experiencing a 5% reduction in enrollment, which is “on par” with what the college has budgeted. He added that Cleveland State is still in Phase 1 of its reopening plan and will be entering its second phase around the Fourth of July.
Seymour is predicting some of the changes made in light of the coronavirus will stick around, like the move to hybrid or online classes over in-person ones.
More than anything, Seymour said he believes “we may never return to the normal we once knew.”