Coastal Carolina University saw 63 positive cases of COVID-19 among their students and staff since June 8, with six student positives and three employee positives between Aug. 12 and Aug. 19.
“We’re doing our best to keep this campus open,” said President Dr. David DeCenzo during Thursday’s Horry County Higher Education Commission (HCHEC).
The university is publishing a weekly tally of positive cases on their website that is posted each Friday morning, with a data cutoff point happening each prior Wednesday.
Officials include a disclaimer on the site with the figures, saying that the cumulative numbers “reflect combined totals of all CCU symptomatic testing results, regular surveillance testing results of student athletes per NCAA guidelines, and positive test results reported by students and employees.”
“CCU may not be aware of all tests taken by CCU employees or students,” the website said.
University officials say that symptomatic testing is being done through the school’s Student Health Services.
In their Coastal Comeback Plan videos posted on their website to help students prepare for their return to school, officials said that CDC guidelines suggest only symptom-based testing.
If students have symptoms, they are encouraged to call Student Health Services, according to Carissa Medeiros, director of Emergency Management, where they will be given a survey and directed to set up an appointment for a test as needed.
“Students will be able to have access on campus to testing, where they won’t have any out of pocket costs,” Medeiros said in the video.
Caesar Ross, director of Student Health Services, said in the same video that it will be point-of-care testing, meaning the students will have their COVID-19 test results within 30 minutes or by the time they leave the health center.
Tristan Wyatt, a CCU business administration graduate student from Landis, N.C., said that he appreciates the safety precautions the school is taking, but said it does take away from the atmosphere.
“From my personal perspective, I have walked the campus and feel upset with the campus experience due to the changes from COVID-19,” Wyatt said, noting that the number of cases at CCU is “nothing” compared to another school in N.C. where students were forced to go home after only two weeks on campus.
Wyatt said he worries about how the semester will play out eventually.
“My question for the University is when is the moment we look to another path for the safety of the students? I’ve taken my classes to the livestream option due to the fear of some exposure to the virus. I know the university will take the proper steps but I am just concerned at how it will be for students in the long run,” Wyatt said.
DeCenzo said that they are doing the best they can.
“We’re doing everything we can to ensure our students heed the advice of the medical community to keep this virus from taking over this campus,” DeCenzo said, noting that they are trying to keep students aware of the fact that they have to do their part.
CCU recently secured up to 100 off-campus beds in the event a student in a residence hall tests positive for COVID-19, through December 14, 2020.
If students reside in a single room they are allowed to isolate there, officials said, but if not, they will have access to one of the off-campus rooms.
Cost of securing those beds would come from the university's housing fund but final costs are not yet known, officials said last week.
CCU Provost Dr. Dan Ennis told the HCHEC Thursday that they will have final enrollment numbers around September 8, once in-person classes begin, but he is confident they have budgeted appropriately for the estimated 10-15% shortfall of students due to the virus.