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38 Belmont Abbey College students test positive for coronavirus

Belmont Abbey College confirmed 38 students on campus have testing positive for COVID-19. It's the latest outbreak on a college campus in North Carolina.
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3D illustration of coronavirus

BELMONT, N.C. — Belmont Abbey College in Gaston County confirmed Thursday that 38 students on campus have tested positive for COVID-19, or novel coronavirus. 

The school confirmed to WCNC Charlotte they have 38 active cases and are working to test, isolate and quarantine students as necessary. Belmont Abbey has not announced if all 38 cases are linked to a particular event or location.

“As of this morning, we have 38 active cases. We are managing through testing, isolating, and quarantining as necessary. We have facilities for quarantining available. All of our protocols are working according to plan, but we continue to encourage students to follow our guidelines of mask-wearing, physical distancing, and no large group gatherings," the school said a statement Thursday. 

Belmont Abbey provost Dr. Travis Feezell said the college's investigation revealed the coronavirus spread as some students came in close contact with each other.

"We expected some cases to appear on our campus, but we're managing those well," Dr. Feezell said. "In particular, we've invoked many strategies to continue to mitigate that becoming explosive."

Dr. Feezell said of the 38 students who tested positive, only seven are still on-campus in isolated rooms.

As a precaution, he said the students' roommates were quarantined.

In a letter shared to the college's Facebook page, Student Government Association officers urged their classmates to hold each other accountable for their actions.

Citing schools across the state who have sent students home, the officers wrote, "We have control over the success of our semester."

"That's what was so heartening for me about seeing the SGA letter," Dr. Feezell said. "Sometimes, the most effective channels are students talking amongst themselves"

As in-person classes continue, everyone must wear a mask in classrooms or congregate areas.

Dr. Feezell said classroom desks are spaced out, and each building has separate entrances and exits.

All final exams in December will be conducted remotely.

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RELATED: NC State ordering students to leave dorms as coronavirus spreads on campus

Belmont Abbey is the latest college or university in North Carolina to announce an outbreak of COVID-19 on campus. Both NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill have moved classes online after outbreaks in student housing. UNC-Charlotte announced last weekend they have pushed back the start of in-person instruction to October 1 at the earliest as a precaution. 

NC State ordered students to leave on-campus housing Wednesday after the latest outbreak. So far, the school has reported almost two dozen clusters, totaling over 100 cases in the last two weeks. NC State officials put all athletics on pause due to the virus and the September football game versus Virginia Tech has been postponed.

RELATED: UNC Charlotte will start fall semester remotely

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