Clarification: Although most students who are planning to live in Pittsburg State’s residence halls this fall are moving in, those who test positive for COVID-19 are being required to remain in isolation off-campus.

PITTSBURG—As students moved in at Pittsburg State University in southeast Kansas last week, both they and university faculty and staff dealt with a much different start to school this year than any in the past.

PSU is taking a wide range of precautions in response to the coronavirus pandemic — including testing all students who will be living in the residence halls, as required by a Crawford County public health order, which was endorsed by the university and issued last week. That testing already identified at least four positive COVID-19 cases among students moving into the residence halls.

"We can just assume that we’re going to have positives out of those, but that’s what the testing is for, to catch any positives, you know, before going into communal living," said Crawford County Health Department Director Rebecca Adamson said at last Friday’s county commission meeting.

While the county health department is keeping track of positive coronavirus cases on campus, many of them will not be officially counted among Crawford County cases reported in the regularly updated numbers from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. They will instead be counted as positive cases for wherever their permanent legal address is located.

When PSU has identified positive cases at this early stage of the start of the school year, those students have been sent home, Adamson said.

"I think all but one has gone to their home in a different state and isolated," she said.

Aside from COVID-19 testing, the university is taking a range of other precautions, including spreading out the move-in process over a period of several days instead the usual one.

As they would in a typical year, university housing staff are handing out room keys, but in 2020 they’re also handing out facemasks, which are now a requirement on campus. Hand sanitizer stations have been set up across the PSU campus, and when students go to their residence halls, there are limits on the number of family members who can accompany them.