CSU’s COVID-19 safety resources vs other Ohio universities

By Maggie Phillips

President Harlan Sands recently confirmed that six students tested positive for Coronavirus during the first week of classes at Cleveland State University. With the inundation of emails relating to the ongoing crisis, many students are confused about what COVID-19 resources CSU offers, and how these resources compare to other colleges throughout Ohio.

Forrest Faison, M.D., CSU’s Senior Vice President of  Research and Innovation and Chief of Health Strategy, wanted to stress the importance of the school’s seven-layer ‘healthy campus’ approach.

“This means we must all commit to stringent guidelines and safety protocols including wearing masks, practicing physical distancing, frequent hand-washing, daily health monitoring, testing of symptomatic students and employees, contract tracing, de-densifying classroom space and resident halls, control of high foot-traffic flow, and advanced disinfecting practices. This will only work if all of us adjust to these changes and commit to culture to keep our community safe,”Faison said.

(CSU’s freshman-only residence hall, Fenn Tower; source: Jack Brancatelli)

One major concern is if students in the residence halls test positive for COVID-19. CSU has significantly reduced their dorm capacity–while some share a dorm with up to 3 other students, every resident has their own private bedroom. Students who need to self-isolate on campus will be able to do so on the designated COVID-19 floors in Fenn Tower.

In comparison, Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) allowed sophomores and juniors to move off-campus so there would be space for all freshmen to have a private bedroom.  Infected students are directed to self-isolate in a nearby hotel. In contrast, Ohio State University (OSU) does not guarantee that all residents will have their own private bedroom. However, students who test positive for COVID-19 are sent to separate residence halls where they will self-isolate in their own private rooms.

(OSU’s online COVID-19 dashboard, Source: Maggie Phillips)

Some Ohio universities have created a public, online tool that displays data about COVID-19 cases on campus. OSU provides an in-depth dashboard that includes their testing data, PPE availability, and isolation/quarantine bed availability for sick residents. CWRU has a similar tool that updates students weekly on positive cases. CSU has not yet released a similar tool, and it is unclear whether or not CSU will make this information publicly available to students in the future. 

CSU’s physician Dr. Karen Borneman wanted to emphasize the many other health resources the university is offering this semester.

“We recognize these are uncertain times and we are committed to providing the highest quality medical care, testing, and support through our CARE TEAM, as well as mental health and counseling support.” The Counseling Center is operating remotely this semester, with normal business hours and after-hour phone counseling for crises. Their website includes important resources for stress-management related to COVID-19.

[These white tents are where COVID-19 tests are conducted on CSU’s Campus; source: Jack Brancatelli]

Through a partnership with the Cleveland Clinic, CSU’s Health & Wellness Center is also conducting coronavirus tests for students, staff, and faculty members who meet certain requirements. In order to get a test, students must call the Health & Wellness Center for an appointment. After an eligibility questionnaire, students who qualify will take the test under the white tents behind the Neomed Building. Priority is given to students living in the residence halls. 

Cuyahoga Community College is offering the most accessible COVID-19 resources of local colleges. Testing is free to students, faculty, staff, and any neighboring residents- no symptoms or insurance required.

[Tri-C’s partnership with Care Alliance is providing COVID-19 testing for their community. Source: https://www.tri-c.edu/administrative-departments/business-continuity/covid-19/covid-19-

Only time will tell the effectiveness of our measures- there is no precedent for protecting students during a pandemic. Dr. Borneman emphasized this point.

 “COVID is new and novel territory for all colleges and universities and we are working to meet the needs in ways that best match our respective schools’ student and employee populations.” 

While CSU doesn’t have all of the same resources as other colleges in Ohio, we must listen to our health and safety staff on the science, and do all that we can to keep each other safe during this pandemic.