Welch College officials learned this afternoon that Welch Men’s Resident Director Russell Houske received notice of a positive COVID-19 test earlier today, according to President Matt Pinson. Houske’s test followed exposure during his duties as an EMT on or about March 16 to a non-college-related individual who later tested positive for COVID-19.
Houske continues to exhibit no symptoms but is rigidly following all CDC and Tennessee Department of Health recommendations, including the required 14-day period of self-quarantine, which both he and his family will observe in their campus apartment.
Upon receiving the test result today, Houske immediately notified college officials. He also notified family members and other individuals who were in recent close contact. Presently, none of the notified individuals has symptoms, and there are no other reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the College community.
Welch students, faculty, and staff left the campus for spring break beginning on March 11, and the campus has remained closed for business since that time. At that time, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Sumner County. Students, faculty, and staff were to return from spring break on March 23. However, following “Safer at Home” orders from Governor Bill Lee and Sumner County Executive Anthony Holt, College officials elected to cancel campus for the rest of the semester, with all courses now being taught online. The campus is closed until further notice, and faculty and staff are working remotely.
Nine students with hardships were permitted to remain in the residence halls. One of the three male students in the men’s residence hall has been appointed as resident assistant, and Dr. Jon Forlines, Vice President for Student Services and Dean of Students, has assumed resident director duties during Houske’s self-quarantine. All these students and most of their parents were informed via video conference Wednesday night about the details of the quarantine, as well as the safety precautions the college has put in place for them.
The College’s facilities contractor initiated a special antiviral cleaning protocol before learning of the positive test. This “deep cleaning” of campus facilities continues in preparation for the yet-to-be announced reopening of the campus.
College President Matt Pinson asked that all in the college community pray for Houske and his family during the self-quarantine period. Pinson said, “I’m calling on the whole extended family of Welch College to pray for Russell and his family during this time. Neither he nor his family have any symptoms. Russell is a meticulous healthcare professional who’s taking every precaution and understands what ‘quarantine’ means. Let’s all be in prayer for this dear family who love our students so much and have invested their lives in their spiritual and personal development.”
Additional updates will be provided as warranted.