By Kaleb Vining
Staff reporter

After performing 6,132 COVID-19 tests last semester, only 117 were positive, and all students recovered.

However, after just 2,464 tests performed to start the Spring semester, Southwestern College already has 58 positive results with 49 recoveries and two hospitalizations, according to the Southwestern College health page.

According to Lock Schnelle, not much has changed in terms of COVID-19 protocol for the college this spring semester. The head athletic trainer said that, if anything, the first semester provided the college with more knowledge on how to handle the virus.

The one thing that continues to remain up in the air is whether or not there are long term effects on individuals after they recover.

The main changes this semester come with the news of vaccinations for faculty and students. These vaccinations are not guaranteed, but things are looking more hopeful.

“I saw where Walmart and Dillons were, and I think we’re in phase two maybe and it looks like immunizations are starting to become more available,” said Dan Falk, dean of students.

These immunizations would shine a light on the college as it deals with the students’ current virus outbreak. “The school is working towards getting the vaccine as an option, but it’s certainly not in our hands,” said Schnelle.

The earliest vaccines might become available is anywhere between April and May. However, it is certainly not a guarantee, said Schnelle.

The current virus outbreak started with a party that was held off-campus. Not only did it contaminate the football team, but it also shut down the track team’s indoor season with no way to reschedule, said Falk.

While the party did put a damper on the start of the second semester, it has served as a proper warning. COVID-19 is still around and is not leaving anytime soon.

The students that tested positive continue to recover, but a new threat looms over the college in the form of the bad weather that accompanies the early months of the year.

“Weather could impose a threat because people are not able to go outside and gather like last semester. People tend to gather indoors during the cold months, and this could impose a threat week to week,” said Schnelle.

Students and athletes who test positive could miss up to 21 days of their sport after going through the proper protocol. This could potentially end up to three to four teams’ seasons if enough athletes are isolated.

Falk said that athletes who miss that much time would basically start from scratch when they return from their isolation.

If athletes and students continue to spread the virus, then sports’ hopes to have their seasons this Spring will slowly slip away.

While the possibility of seasons remains in question with the current virus outbreak, Falk said that the college is confident that there will be no need to go virtual to finish out the year.

The college health page will continue to be updated throughout the semester. Click here for more updates on COVID-19 cases, recoveries and hospitalizations.