Colleges, universities prepare to keep students safe as monkeypox cases spread

With monkeypox cases on the rise, many colleges and universities are working on protocols for students before they start classes this fall semester.
Updated: Aug. 17, 2022 at 5:00 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - With monkeypox cases on the rise, many colleges and universities are working on protocols for students before they start classes this fall semester.

We caught up with Kaelly Ryan, director of health services at American International College, who told us they’re noticing that monkeypox is being spread through both skin-to-skin and face-to-face contact, so Ryan advises students wear protective clothing to avoid coming in contact with lesions on the skin.

“I have seen people suggest thicker clothing, leather, things like that,” Ryan added.

There is similar messaging at UMass Amherst. They posted on their website that students can minimize their risk of contracting monkeypox and spreading it by:

  • Avoiding gatherings where people wear minimal clothing
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick or have a rash
  • Decreasing the number of sex and intimate contact partners
  • Being mindful of activities that might increase the risk for spreading monkeypox

Ryan also suggested that students wash materials such as clothes, sheets, and towels frequently.

“I would recommend for students to not share bedding, towels, sheets, things like that and to wash and high heat and high dry,” Ryan noted.

She told Western Mass News that luckily, she has not yet heard of anyone contracting monkeypox through shared laundry services. However, Ryan advised that any students who have tested positive for monkeypox or think they may be infected should not use any shared restrooms.

As for COVID-19, Ryan told Western Mass News that AIC will be following the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means students will have to isolate for five days after testing positive and those who were exposed don’t have to quarantine as long as they don’t have symptoms. However, they are asking them to mask up for 10 days and test after day five.

“For COVID-19 in previous semesters, we have suggested students have a to-go bag ready in case they do need to isolate, so we’ll have formal recommendations forthcoming,” Ryan explained.

Ryan told Western Mass News that AIC is still having conversations about where students will isolate if they test positive for either COVID-19 or monkey pox and they expect to have more information next week. Ryan said last year, however, they had on-campus isolation housing for positive COVID-19 cases and some students did have the option to quarantine at home.