BCC student tests positive for COVID-19; 42 told to self-quarantine

Berkshire Community College is said to be in the running to host criminal trials. The state Trial Court is looking for alternatives to current courthouses that are believed to be unsafe for use during the pandemic.

PITTSFIELD — Forty-two students and staff at Berkshire Community College were told to self-quarantine after a student tested positive for COVID-19.

The student is enrolled in one of the college’s Allied Health programs, according to Christina Wynn, interim dean of business and outreach. She said that upon learning of the student’s positive test result Wednesday, the college closed the classroom that the student had been reporting to for 24 hours and sanitized it.

BCC has contacted all students, faculty and staff who had been in contact with the student and instructed them to self-quarantine for 14 days, Wynn said. Students in the impacted classroom were shifted to remote instruction and will continue distance learning for the next week.

According to BCC’s policy, the city’s Health Department and/or the community nurse assists with contact tracing. The college did not notify the entire student body of the positive test result, she said.

About 70 percent of students are learning entirely online this semester, Wynn said, and BCC has “limited access points” to buildings.

“We have spent a lot of time in the past six months really looking at our disinfection and sanitation procedures that are recommended by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and the state Health Department,” she said. “The health and safety of students, faculty and staff is our highest priority, and that is why the college made such a move toward predominantly remote learning.”

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BCC has designated areas where students are permitted, including clinical labs, clinical classrooms for nursing, the Boland Theatre, which also is for classroom use, and the library, where capacity has been capped at 75 people, according to the school's website.

Wynn said “there is no reason to believe that the student was in any common spaces.”

So far, the student is the only positive COVID-19 case to which the college has been alerted.

BCC has developed protocols accessing the college campus during the coronavirus pandemic, which include mandatory face coverings absent an accommodation. Visitors are required to fill out an access request form one day before their visit, and are asked to reschedule if they identify themselves as experiencing one or more symptoms, and students are asked to self-monitor and stay home if they are sick.

The students who were told to self-quarantine will be permitted to return to campus after producing a negative test result following their quarantine, Wynn said.

Amanda Burke can be reached at aburke@berkshireeagle.com, on Twitter @amandaburkec and 413-496-6296.