Published September 14, 2020
On Wednesday, Sept. 9, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) released information statewide regarding COVID-19 clusters within the state of Kansas. This announcement identified clusters in specific towns, colleges and other private businesses—including an active on-campus cluster at Dodge City Community College (DC3).
“The data released by the KDHE does not represent timely or accurate numbers regarding active cases amongst students or employees at Dodge City Community College,” Kristi Ohlschwager, DC3 Assistant Vice President of Administration and Human Resources, said. “At this time DC3 only has two positive cases of COVID-19 amongst its employees, and two employees are in self-isolation due to exposure to COVID-19 in their personal lives.”
Ohlschwager said that DC3 has taken an extremely “aggressive and proactive” approach to testing students on the college’s campus, including those living in the residence halls, in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus and in the community. And DC3 students have been tested if they traveled from KDHE identified hotspots or if they are considered to be exposed to COVID-19 as defined by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
“Thus far, the college has tested a total of 159 students since courses began in July,” she said. “Many of these students have minimal symptoms, or are completely asymptomatic, and seven students were released from self-isolation over the weekend. That leaves us with only 16 active positive cases amongst our student population—or less than 2% of the total student population and less than 7% of our students living in the residence halls.”
DC3 Athletic Director Jacob Ripple said, “The cases reported by the KDHE in their cluster information does not reflect current active cases in our athletic department. We have had cases within our department, but we have taken aggressive measures to limit the spread within our programs. This has included the shutdown of all athletic activities for a period of time and a gradual return to practice protocol for our programs, if they meet a certain criteria. We are confident that these measures will help limit any new spread and will best ensure the safety of our student-athletes.”
In order to further prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the DC3 campus, all employees, staff, and community members have access to personal protective equipment (PPE)—in the form of facial masks, gloves and noncontact thermometers, Ohlschwager said. In addition, rooms and offices also have been accommodated with Plexiglas dividers for added safety.
“All students are expected to wear masks in the classrooms and in common areas such as the library or cafeteria,” she said. “Any students who do not wish to wear masks will be accommodated either by remote learning or adjusted class periods. We are committed to the safety of our students, faculty and staff, and this commitment started back in March when the college created a COVID-19 response committee.”
The DC3 COVID-19 response committee meets weekly and consists of members from across campus ranging from faculty, administration, counselors, health professionals, and even members of the DC3 Board of Trustees, she said.
“The COVID-19 response committee makes cohesive decisions that allow the DC3 campus to continue to provide a quality education, while providing a safe and sanitized learning environment,” she said. “The committee’s COVID-19 plan is posted on our website at dc3.edu. Of course, this plan is subject to change at any time due to recommendations from appropriate authorities including the local and state government, the CDC, and the KDHE.”
In addition, Ohlschwager said the college is in constant communication with the Ford County Health Administrator, along with other county officials, to provide updates and to keep them apprised of the COVID-19 situation on the DC3 campus.
“We would like to thank them, and also thank all of the testing sites across Dodge City, for the amazing job that they are doing to serve our community,” she said. “With their cooperation, we are helping to keep our community members safe and are also minimizing the spread of COVID-19.”