Ottawa County orders GVSU students to 'stay in place' for 14 days starting Thursday

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Ottawa County public health officer orders all Grand Valley State University students, living on or off campus, to stay in their designated homes for 14 days starting Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. (WWMT/File)

The public health officer of the Ottawa County Department of Public Health issued a staying in place order to all Grand Valley State University students Wednesday.

Under the order, students living on-campus or off-campus housing are required to remain in their designated homes at all times for 14 days beginning at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, and ending Oct. 1, at 11:59 p.m.

Lisa Stefanovsky, public health officer, said students may not return to their home address unless for an emergency.

She said staying in place means no gatherings or group activities outside the listed exceptions.

In a report released by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, Grand Valley was listed among a couple dozen schools, both secondary and institutions of higher learning, that were experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks. Grand Valley topped the list for the numbers of students and, or staff who had tested positive.

Under the Ottawa County orders, Grand Valley students would be allowed to:

  • 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.
  • For physical activity in groups of no more than two with strict adherence to preventive measures.

The Grand Valley State University president, Philomena Mantella, said about 20 % of classes were in -person, and did not need to be cancelled at this time.

“We’re not making any change to our in person classes because there’s not any evidence that there’s any transmission in classroom .They’re all socially distanced and under 14 in classrooms that hold 40 plus students," said Mantella.

Mantella said the university was working on educating students on contact tracing and the importance of isolating and adhering to the guidelines.

Although strongly discouraged, and if the university specifically authorizes the activity, students associated with intercollegiate varsity sports may attend practices provided a licensed physician is present. The physician is also required to supervise 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.

Since Aug. 23, 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported more than 600 cases of COVID-19 in the student population living on or near the Grand Valley campus. Stefanovsky said the majority of the cases are among off-campus students and appear to be driven by congregate living or gatherings.

Samantha May is a digital news producer, and can be reached at