Five FRC students have tested positive for coronavirus to date
By Debra Moore
As colleges in California and across the country dial back in-person learning due to a rise in coronavirus cases, including neighboring Chico State, we checked in with Feather River College to see how the fall semester is progressing.
The fires caused local K-12 schools to delay the start of class until Aug. 31, but classes resumed for college students Aug. 24. Since there were evacuations and road closures in place, the college opted for a week of distance learning, even for lab courses. But this week, students are back on campus for the in-person instruction.
Feather River College President Kevin Trutna said that all students who either live in the dorms or attend class on campus have to take an initial COVID test. Thus far, five have tested positive. They all came from out of the area and returned immediately to their hometowns after receiving the results. One of the first two students to test positive is expected to arrive back on campus this week.
However, Trutna mentioned that he was unsure if Plumas County’s reported 41st case was an FRC student, so Plumas News contacted Public Health Director Andrew Woodruff. Woodruff said that No. 41 (which was announced yesterday Aug. 31) did come from the joint testing effort of the college, the hospital and public health. He said that individual has since returned to their hometown, but is counted in the Plumas County case count because the student acquired the coronavirus while living in Quincy. “This is what the system was set up to find and allow us to quickly respond,” Woodruff said.
Trutna estimates that there are about 250 students on campus, which he described as “a third to a half” of the number usually there. Students are required to wear masks and monitor their symptoms on a health app supplied to their phones. “The first student that didn’t complete the screening was not allowed to go in to class,” Trutna said. That student was planning to attend an athletics class.
The college has been working with Plumas District Hospital to provide testing. That entity has been sending employees on campus to take the COVID tests and then returning the results later in the afternoon. “It’s been working wonderfully,” Trutna said.
He estimates that there will be one more testing day to ensure that all who must take tests have received them. Returning students who had previously tested positive, will be required to be retested.
Trutna said that he has been talking with peers across the state who report that it often takes as many as seven days to obtain test results. College of the Siskiyous drives its tests to Medford, Oregon, to the speed result time. But with Plumas District Hospital’s rapid testing investment, Feather River College receives same-day results.