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ONU President warns classes could move online if ‘major outbreak’ occurs

Five students at Olivet Nazarene University had tested positive since students moved back onto campus over the weekend

Olivet Nazarene University Executive Vice President and CFO David Pickering announced to students Wednesday afternoon in an email five students had tested positive for COVID-19 on campus.

The numbers were current as of yesterday. Olivet students moved back onto campus on August 14th. Wednesday was the 3rd day of classes this semester.

“Now that you’re back on campus, we want to remind you that COVID-19 is still present in Bourbonnais and the greater Kankakee region and we must all take steps to slow the spread of the disease.” The University said in an official notification statement.  The statement was released in compliance with the U.S. Department of Education Clery Act, which guides what health and safety information universities share with their campus.

“As of August 19, ONU has five positive cases among the student body.  Four students are following isolation protocol on campus, one student is isolating at home.” Olivet said in the statement Wednesday afternoon.  The University will continue to release additional data if and when it becomes available.

Prior to moving back on campus, Olivet introduced the ‘Tiger Pause’ an emphasis call to action to be used around campus to remind students, faculty, staff, and visitors of actions to stay safe during the pandemic.

After ONU alerted students, ONU President Dr. Bowling addressed the student body in a private video statement, encouraging students to remain vigilant while on campus.
 “I want to encourage you to remain vigilant as we respond to the continued threat of the coronavirus,” Bowling said, stating the University has followed all protocols and practices for continuing on-campus programs.

ONU’s President did warn students could move online if a ‘major outbreak’ occurred.

“If there is a major outbreak of the disease, we may have no choice but to close the campus once again and transition to a fully online delivery.  I don’t think any of us prefer that outcome.” Bowling said in the statement.

ONU’s President made an appeal to the student body this week to remain alert, including practicing social distancing and wearing masks, including while outdoors.

“If we’re in the quad or hanging out with our friends, we still need to be careful.  If someone in your circle tests positive, you would have to be quarantined as well.  And no one wants that.” Bowling explained in his message to students Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s not going to be easy, but it’s vitally important that we continue our on-campus programs this semester,” Bowling said. “I’m asking each of you and all of you to wear masks, whenever you are with others.  Even outside.  And please encourage others to do so.  Sometimes we just forget, or we think ‘well, I know this person’ or ‘these are my friends, we’re okay.’ However, it’s important to remember the virus is generally transmitted not by strangers, but among individuals who share extended periods of time together.”

Students participate in Yoga on campus at Olivet earlier this week [Photo: Life at Olivet (IG)]

Olivet has already hosted various extra-curricular activities on campus activities since classes resumed.

“I’m confident we can make it through this together if everyone does his or her part,” Bowling said. Since Monday, the Kankakee County Health Department has reported 106 new cases of COVID-19 in Kankakee County, including 30 cases on Thursday.

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