PLYMOUTH — Six Plymouth State University students were given interim suspensions for violating precautions meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but extensive testing shows few people at the college have the virus.
Three of those suspended were involved in a large gathering off-campus. The other three broke rules regarding visitors in on-campus housing, said Marlin Collingwood, a spokesman for the university.
Three have been allowed to return to classes and three are in the suspension review process, which can take 10 days to two weeks.
A new round of COVID-19 testing at Plymouth State University shows one student and one staff member with positive results for the virus.
These results were from 3,533 tests that were given on Sept. 1-2. A third round of testing concluded Wednesday and results are not yet available.
“We’re feeling very good about the positivity rate,” Collingwood said. “It is very, very low. It couldn’t get much lower.”
Earlier, pre-semester testing revealed 18 positive cases, 17 students and one staff member. Those who test positive go into quarantine.
The university is posting its testing statistics on its website — www.plymouth.edu
“Overall students are following health and safety protocols including mask wearing, social distancing and avoiding group gatherings,” the website states.
Other schools have had problems with COVID-19 outbreaks.
Eleven positive COVID-19 tests were traced to a party of more than 100 unmasked people at a University of New Hampshire fraternity.
At Plymouth State, all campus buildings are closed and off limits to anyone not actively teaching, studying, or working at PSU. Guests are not allowed in any campus buildings, including residence halls and student apartments, unless they have approved academic or professional reasons.
The rules also state that face coverings must be worn in all campus buildings, outdoors on campus when social distancing is not possible, and when in stores and buildings in Plymouth. PSU social distancing guidelines are 3 feet if masks are worn or 6 feet otherwise.
During a recent visit to campus, most of the students could be seen either wearing a mask or carrying one.
Graduate student Rachel Kosik, who also attended PSU as an undergrad, put on a mask to talk.
“The biggest change is not having the same resources that we usually do,” she said. “We don’t have the gym and the library is on limited access and the dining hall is limited access as well.”
Classwork can be quite different.
“Due to the circumstances of being on Zoom, you have to rely a lot more on good Wi-Fi at your house, or having a quiet dorm room,” she said. “Those outside barriers make it harder for me personally.”
She lives off campus in a large house with 15 other people.
“My house is pretty quiet, but it can easily get really loud like a dorm room on Thursday night or Friday.”
Social life is toned down.
“There’s definitely a lot less social interaction on campus,” she said.
She pointed to a big grassy area nearby with several students lounging, studying or talking.
“Usually this Mary Lyon Lawn is just filled with people,” she said. “And it’s no longer like that. I have not really seen any of the underclassmen and usually I’m socializing with them and just doing fun things, tossing the football back and forth on a nice day like today.
“You’ll see kids out going for hikes or floating the river but it’s pretty quiet around campus nowadays, especially on the weekends, you don’t see anyone.”
She said she sees good adherence to the mask requirement indoors.
Another student, who declined to be named, said she feels that some people get a false sense of security while wearing masks and don’t always maintain enough social distance.
“My roommates and I hole up in our room, but a lot of people are still partying on campus,” she said.
People sometimes gather off-campus.
“Just going grocery shopping, I passed by an off-campus apartment and people were partying on the porch like nothing mattered. It’s kind of wild.”
She said she does well with online learning, while others seem to have a more difficult time with it.
COVID-19 is in the background.
“The vibe I get from my classmates is we kind of forget we’re in a pandemic. You check yourself to make sure you’re doing the right thing.”
The university has extensive plans to try to avoid a viral outbreak.
“But even with all the plans that have been made, you are asking a bunch of 20-year-olds to be perfect citizens,” she said. “They are trying.”