Ottawa County today issued a stay-in-place order that requires Grand Valley State University to remain in their residences for 14 days.
The order, affecting students who live in off-campus and on-campus housing, takes effect just after midnight tonight and goes until 12:01 a.m. Oct. 1.
“Students may not return to their home address unless for an emergency,” according to a new release this afternoon from the Ottawa County Department of Public Health.
Ottawa County took the action after testing since Aug. 23 detected more than 600 cases of COVID-19 among students living on or near the GVSU campus in Allendale.
Most cases involve students who live off campus and “appear to be driven by congregate living and congregate gathering. GVSU cases have consistently reported a lower number of contacts, compared to non-GVSU cases in Ottawa County. During OCDPH’s case investigation, many students report having no contacts or refuse to disclose contacts,” according to the Ottawa County Department of Public Health.
“Control of the COVID-19 pandemic is necessary to protect the health of Ottawa County communities,” said Lisa Stefanovsky, public health officer for Ottawa County. “Based on epidemiological data and the expertise of public health officials, the increased numbers of GVSU cases may adversely impact other communities, services and businesses in the county.”
The stay-in-place order means “no gatherings or group activities outside” of listed exceptions.
Students are still allowed to:
- Attend in-person classes, including labs and physical education classes with strict adherence to preventive measures.
- Leave their room or residence to pick up food and other basic needs, go to medical appointments, pick up medication, attend religious practice activities or to obtain COVID-19 testing with strict adherence to preventive measures.
- Attend work with the approval of the employer if the work is essential and cannot be done remotely with strict adherence to preventive measures.
- Have clinical rotations, student teaching or other off-campus experiential learning assignments to continue only with approval from the college dean and disclosure to the organization of placement and renewed approval by that organization with strict adherence to preventive measures.
- Leave their room or residence for purposes of physical activity in groups of no more than two with strict adherence to preventive measures.
“Although strongly discouraged by (the health department) during the term of this order, if GVSU specifically authorizes students who are associated with intercollegiate varsity sports, they may attend practices provided a currently licensed physician is present during the entire process, actively supervises the team’s COVID-19 mitigation activities during the practice and has the final authority to suspend the practice if he or she believes COVID-19 mitigation practices require that result,” according to the Health Department.
“All of us share the goal of keeping our communities safe,” GVSU President Philomena Mantella said in a statement. “GVSU remains committed to following all public health guidance and to stopping the spread of this virus, and I want to thank all of our students who have been acting responsibly. The university has partnered with the county department of public health from the beginning, and we ask our students to cooperate with this two-week order and do their part for their friends, family and the greater community. We can slow down the spread if we work together.