COVID-19 Campus Update

Dear Campus Community,

Given the increase of COVID-19 cases in Wichita County and the steady though modest rise of cases on campus, we have received questions regarding MSU’s continued Phase III operations. MSU first considers two main indicators to make that decision: the rise in new cases and local hospital capacity. We continue to follow expert opinions and CDC guidance, as well as cooperate with local public health officials to decide whether to change phases of operation.

Our ability to operate in person has not substantially changed since face-to-face classes began in August. In addition to the two considerations above, MSU considers other information from the city, county, and region, all within the context of campus. For example:

  • Daily change in active campus cases. As of October 27, the five-day running average saw -1 new daily active cases. October 27, specifically, MSU saw a decrease of 1 active case (2 new confirmed cases and 3 recoveries). The relatively slow increase, and more recent downward trend on campus, is a result of the campus community’s compliance to the safety protocols introduced for this fall, for which we are very grateful. 
  • Proportion of active cases to community. As of October 27, there are 25 active cases in the student population, of which 7 are residential students. This is .43% of the student population, and .47% of the residential student population. In comparison, Wichita County has 1,326 active cases representing some 1.0% of the county population.
  • Positive test ratio. MSU’s positive test ratio (tests conducted on campus) was 1.8%, compared to Wichita County’s 30%.
  • Isolation bed capacity. MSU is currently using 4 of 48 isolation beds; some 92% of isolation beds remain unoccupied and available.

Members of our community have likely noticed a number of students being placed in quarantine. That is because MSU immediately quarantines individuals who may have been close contacts to a confirmed positive COVID-19 case. MSU is taking an aggressive approach to contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine. While this action causes a large number of notifications across campus, it is an effective strategy. Please keep in mind that quarantine does not equate with active cases.

We recognize that the increase in positive cases in the surrounding community causes much concern. Please remain steadfast in following the protocols in place. We remain safe together by taking care of each other. Based on your good work to date we do not need to move to a more restrictive phase of operation at this time. Should that status change we will give as much notice as possible; we are much better positioned to do so today than when the pandemic first emerged.

Finally, the Return to Campus Task Force has been reactivated with the purpose of reviewing and updating the Return to Campus Task Force Report and plans for continued operation. This update will reflect what has been learned this fall with updated CDC, state, and local guidance. Their work will begin immediately to submit a final report through the Incident Management Team for Cabinet review and approval on December 1. This will allow us to fully update the campus before the onset of winter break. Please do not hesitate to contact us with remaining questions or concerns.

James Johnston, Provost

Keith Lamb, Vice President for Student Affairs