RINDGE — The COVID-19 outbreak at Franklin Pierce University has swelled to 48 active cases, a school official said Tuesday evening.
Franklin Pierce spokeswoman Marissa Colcord told The Sentinel in an email that all students living on campus, in addition to all commuter students, are being tested for the coronavirus this week. Faculty and staff will also be able to get tested this week, she said.
The university, which has about 1,200 students and 235 faculty and staff members at its Rindge campus, had previously planned to test 400 to 500 randomly selected students and staff each week this semester — about double the weekly testing it conducted in the fall. (Since athletes and athletic staff will be tested up to three times a week, per NCAA guidelines, the school had expected to test as many as 700 people per week this semester, according to Dean of Student Affairs Andrew Pollom.)
The Franklin Pierce campus remains under a temporary shelter-in-place order that administrators issued last week in response to a rise in COVID-19 cases on campus.
Colcord described the 10-day order, which began Friday morning, as a “preventative pause of in-person activities” rather than a lockdown. Students living on campus are allowed to leave their rooms to use the bathroom, do laundry, pick up meals from the dining hall and address health needs, including COVID-19 testing, according to a university notice announcing the shelter-in-place.
She added that students are allowed to leave campus for essential errands, such as medical appointments and grocery shopping.
“Students are expected to abide by strict health and safety guidelines on and off campus, including mask wearing, adhering to social distancing, practicing good hand hygiene, et cetera,” Colcord said.
Franklin Pierce issued the order after 18 students tested positive for COVID-19 in a 24-hour stretch last week, bringing the number of active cases on campus last Thursday to 33, the school explained in the notice. As of Tuesday evening, the shelter-in-place was still set to expire Feb. 21, Colcord said.
The number of active cases at the university exceeds its total for the entire fall semester, when the school reported 26 cases.
Before students returned to campus beginning Jan. 24, they had to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within seven days of their arrival. Commuter students and staff needed to present a negative test result within a week of the start of classes Jan. 27.