20210901-LOC-Keene State Filer

The gate leading to Appian Way on Keene State College’s campus.

Seven Keene State College students have tested positive for COVID-19 since students began returning to campus last week, a school spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The college tested all of its roughly 3,100 students and 630 employees before classes resumed Monday, according to spokeswoman Kelly Ricaurte.

“Just as Keene State did last year, the Rapid Response Team follows up quickly on the positive results to place the student in quarantine, and identify close contacts of the individual,” Ricaurte said in an email.

Vaccinated individuals identified as close contacts of people who test positive do not need to quarantine, Ricaurte added, but do need to be tested for the coronavirus three to five days after exposure. Unvaccinated people identified as close contacts are required to quarantine for 10 days.

Due to a new state law, Keene State, along with the rest of New Hampshire’s public university system, is not requiring a COVID-19 vaccine this fall. But, Keene State is encouraging all students and staff to get the shot and consider sharing proof of vaccination with the school’s Wellness Center through a confidential online portal.

As of Tuesday, Ricaurte said about 73 percent of faculty and staff and 55 percent of students have provided proof of vaccination, but those figures continue to grow daily.

Most Keene State freshmen moved to campus last Wednesday, while returning students arrived throughout the weekend. The college is opening the academic year with a variety of COVID-19 protocols in place, including a mask requirement in buildings on campus and for outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people, as well as weekly campus-wide testing through the month of September.

At the end of the month, Keene State will determine the frequency of this surveillance testing moving forward, depending on factors such as public health conditions on campus and throughout the region. Following the seven COVID-19 cases in the past week, Ricaurte said Keene State does not plan any immediate changes to its current health and safety measures.

“We will continue to test all Keene State community members weekly during September, and will closely follow case rates in the city and region,” she said.

Jack Rooney can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1404, or jrooney@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @RooneyReports.