Seven students returning to campus to live in the residence halls at Missouri Southern State University have tested positive for COVID-19, the university announced on Tuesday.

Testing was conducted by Missouri Southern’s Willcoxon Health Center as students moved into the residence halls. As of Tuesday, 611 students had been tested, with seven positive cases, said Julie Stamps, director of the health center. That is 1.1%. Testing is ongoing for late arrivals to campus.

All positive COVID-19 tests are reported to the Joplin Health Department. The health department and Willcoxon staff will work together to notify other health officials as well as faculty, staff and students based on contact tracing.

Rooms have been made available in campus housing for students who need to be in isolation after a positive test or in quarantine after close contact exposure. Faculty members and advisers are available to work with affected students in order to continue their academic progress.

“We’re constantly reminding our students to wear masks, practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings,” Stamps said.

Across the state line, officials at Pittsburg (Kansas) State University said Tuesday that out of 756 students who were tested for COVID-19 in the past few weeks as part of a move-in process, a total of 15 were positive, or 1.98%. That number includes the 11 positive cases that university officials had announced the day before.

Those who tested positive either returned home or moved off campus to alternative housing, to be monitored by Taylor Panczer, the university's COVID-19 case manager. The students must remain in their living quarters off campus for the recommended duration of quarantine, which is 14 days.

Two of them are already out of isolation, and all test results from the move-in weekend are in, according to Crawford County Health Director Rebecca Adamson. The county is working with the university on contact tracing.

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