Furman Focused Releases COVID-19 Dashboard
In the late afternoon of Wednesday Aug. 26, Furman Focused released a COVID-19 Dashboard updating the student body and faculty of all known COVID-19 cases on campus. This release comes just over one week after the start of the Fall semester and hours after news broke of a possible COVID-19 outbreak in the North Village housing complex. When asked to comment on the dashboard, a Furman administrator expressed the university's desire “to be as transparent as possible and provide timely information for students, faculty, staff, and families.”
Upon its release, the COVID-19 Dashboard revealed that 10 Furman students have been tested due to COVID-19 symptoms or exposure to an individual who tested positive. The university placed 13 students, identified through contact tracing, in temporary isolation while awaiting test results. Currently, no students are in the official 14-day quarantine and there are zero positive student cases.
Several students offered their thoughts on the dashboard and the importance of Furman keeping its student body informed. Asha Marie, who plans on commuting this Fall but is currently studying remotely, said: “I’ve been really curious about what’s actually happening on campus because I hear two stories: one in which everyone is doing a really good job social distancing and wearing masks and following the rules, and another where there are still lots of people just not taking things seriously. I’m excited to have some clarity about what’s going on and it’ll help make my decision to come back to campus or not easier.”
Senior Kylie Berube, who is learning remotely for the entire Fall semester said, “I appreciate Furman’s relative transparency...it is definitely beneficial that Furman is trying to keep both the on-campus and off-campus community informed of major updates...transparency and awareness has been part of what has prevented us from seeing an excessive number of cases.”
Another student currently on campus expressed their support for the dashboard but speculated that publishing the numbers could also incite panic on campus. They noted, “I think it’s good information to know and it could indicate what’s working and what needs to be improved on campus, but I’m also concerned that people are not mature enough to properly respond to that information as we’ve seen on social media about attacking and shaming other students. I also think it could cause panic but on the other hand it might encourage students to practice safer habits.”
The Aug. 26 Furman Focused update also informed readers that the administration discovered students have been receiving off-campus tests without notifying the Earle Student Health Center of either their symptoms or test results. In response to this, Tom Evelyn, VP for University Communications, shared: “It is worth repeating that students should complete the daily LiveSafe health screening and go through the Earle Student Health Center to get tested. If students are tested by off-campus providers, they should report those results to the student health center for confirmation and so we have accurate data for our campus and can make the best health and safety decisions, based on that information.”
The administration did not comment regarding how they were informed of this off-campus testing, or how many students had failed to disclose their symptoms before receiving these tests. The COVID-19 Dashboard will continue to be updated each Monday afternoon for the foreseeable future.