Delaware State University reported fall semester enrollment held up well despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite the pandemic, which has significantly reduced college attendance nationwide, the university achieved enrollment numbers that came close to last year’s record.
Fall 2020 enrollment totaled 5,027 students – 27 short of the record enrollment of the previous year. This year’s enrollment included 4,601 undergraduate students and record numbers of graduate and online students, 608 and 230, respectively.
The campus residential population was cut to 1,575 – down from the typical figure of 2,200.
Delaware State University developed a partnership with Testing for America, a non-profit organization that developed testing programs.
Students and employees have been tested for Covid-19 weekly throughout the semester. The university instituted requirements for mask-wearing and social distancing, reduced the residential population, converted most classroom courses to the virtual, hybrid curriculum, and eliminated campus events involving large gatherings.
Continuous messaging and communications was another feature of DSU’s strategy, a release stated.
The implemented measures at Del State yielded a COVID-19 positivity rate of only 0.4 percent, a figure that drew national attention from news networks.
“We have been successful in keeping our university community safe by relying on the best science and public health practices; rigorously pursuing our mission; and caring enough about each other to hold each other accountable – day in and day out,” said President Tony Allen. “Thatis what it means to be a substantively diverse, contemporary, and unapologetic HBCU.”
Since July, the University has conducted 34,864 tests on students and employees; of those tests, only 143 Covid-19 positive cases were reported (131 students and 12 employees).
Because the turnaround for test results was normally 36 hours or less, the university could conduct effective contact tracing to reduce the spread from infected persons, the release noted.
Dr. Michelle Fisher, Director of the University’s Office of Health Service, said the Health Center staff deserves a lot of credit for the Del State’s success in limiting campus spread.
“We have a dedicated staff that recognizes the importance of what we are doing,” Dr. Fisher said. “Contact tracing occurs seven days a week. Regardless of when the test result is received, the positive individual is notified, placed in isolation, and their close contacts are identified.”
Most of the residential population departed to go home for Thanksgiving, where they will finish the rest of the semester virtually. A population of about 200 students (spring athletes in training, international students, and those with extenuating circumstances) will continue to reside on campus in between semesters. The remaining campus residents will be regularly tested.
Del State students will return to campus on Jan. 19 for the spring semester. The spring semester will be one week later than normal, but that week will be made up by the elimination of spring break in March.
The university expects to host a slightly larger residential population and conduct a larger percentage of courses with in-class instruction.