The Ottawa County Department of Public Health has issued a stay in place order for Grand Valley State University students living in Allendale Township.
The order requires all GVSU students living in on-campus housing or living in off-campus housing in Allendale Township to remain in their designated residence at all times for 14 days.
The order begins Sept. 17 at 12:01 a.m. and ends Oct. 1 at 11:59 p.m.
Students may not return to their home address unless for an emergency, the health department said.
There have been more than 600 cases of COVID-19 since Aug. 23 in the student population living on or near the GVSU campus in Allendale Township.
“Case rates per million have continued to rise, indicating disease spread among GVSU students and rates have exceeded maximum indicator thresholds for risk to the community. The majority of cases are among off-campus students and appear to be driven by congregate living and congregate gathering,” the health department said.
Lisa Stefanovsky, public health officer for the health department, said control of the pandemic is necessary to protect the health of the county’s communities.
“Based on epidemiological data and the expertise of public health officials, the increased numbers of GVSU cases may adversely impact other communities, services and businesses in the county. This could include the Ottawa County Court system and K-12 education based on the state’s mandated thresholds for in-person interactions. GVSU has worked collaboratively with us in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and we truly appreciate their support as we work through this,” Stefanovsky said.
The order states no gatherings or group activities outside the following exceptions are allowed:
- Attend in-person classes, including labs and physical education classes with strict adherence to preventive measures.
- Leave their room or residence to pick up food and other basic needs, go to medical appointments, pick up medication, attend religious practice activities or to obtain COVID-19 testing with strict adherence to preventive measures.
- Attend work with the approval of the employer if the work is essential and cannot be done remotely with strict adherence to preventive measures.
- Have clinical rotations, student teaching or other off-campus experiential learning assignments to continue only with approval from the college dean and disclosure to the organization of placement and renewed approval by that organization with strict adherence to preventive measures.
- Leave their room or residence for purposes of physical activity in groups of no more than two with strict adherence to preventive measures.
- Although strongly discouraged by OCPHD during the term of this order, if GVSU specifically authorizes students who are associated with intercollegiate varsity sports, they may attend practices provided a currently licensed physician is present during the entire process, actively supervises the team’s COVID-19 mitigation activities during the practice and has the final authority to suspend the practice if he or she believes COVID-19 mitigation practices require that result.
“GVSU student interaction with the broader community greatly increases the risk of community disease spread which may result in serious illness or death,” said Dr. Heidel, OCDPH medical director. “We need students to take the ‘Staying in Place’ order seriously and be vigilant to help stop the spread of COVID-19. We commend the GVSU administrative leaders for their partnership and commitment to aggressive disease prevention measures that are essential to help contain the outbreak.”
“All of us share the goal of keeping our communities safe,” Grand Valley State University President Philomena Mantella said. “GVSU remains committed to following all public health guidance and to stopping the spread of this virus, and I want to thank all of our students who have been acting responsibly. The university has partnered with the county department of public health from the beginning, and we ask our students to cooperate with this two-week order and do their part for their friends, family and the greater community. We can slow down the spread if we work together.”