Westfield State University outbreak continues through shelter-in-place

WESTFIELD- Westfield State University reported 58 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 this week as the campus remains in a shelter-in-place period due to the outbreak.

There have been 113 confirmed cases at Westfield State since September 29. 

In a letter to the Westfield State Community Nov. 12, Interim University President Dr. Roy H. Saigo said that there were 57 students in isolation in Lansdowne Place and 11 students in quarantine there. The downtown student housing facility is the designated quarantine building for Westfield State students. 

During the Westfield Board of Health meeting last week, city Health Director Joseph Rouse said that Lansdowne Place was “essentially full.” Should there be any further cases at Westfield State, an unused dorm on campus will be designated a quarantine area for students. 

Rouse said university administration has been handling the situation well despite the circumstances they are in. 

“Westfield State is doing the best they can with their situation,” said Rouse, “They were relieved to have the state step in and offer assistance. It turned into a big deal but now we are on the right track.”

Rouse suggested that the university may eventually cease in-person learning once the shelter-in-place is over and each student has either been sufficiently tested or fully quarantined, making it safe to send them home. 

“They are going to eventually close down like they did when this all started in March. There will still be a population of students on campus, mostly from programs that cannot do remote learning, like the nursing program,” said Rouse. “We’re talking about a few hundred people that will remain to complete their courses and their work.”

Westfield State spokesperson Lorraine Martinelle would not confirm whether or not in-person learning will shut down. 

Westfield State University continues to keep a careful eye on the COVID-19 positive cases as we work to manage the isolation of our positive residential students, continue aggressive contact tracing, and evaluate recent testing results to determine if and when we need to alter our current course of action,” said Martinelle.

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