Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management today (Oct. 23) announced that confirmed cases of COVID among its MBA students doubled in the past week to eight from four last Friday.
A week ago, the school shifted all MBA classes online after the first four MBA students tested positive in the aftermath of an off-campus gathering that forced some 50 students into a quarantine.
The university’s COVID dashboard, which does not break out numbers by school, is now reporting that 28 new positive cases have been discovered since Kellogg announced the end of its hybrid approach for at least two weeks. It is the highest number of cases since Northwestern began reporting on the impact of the coronavirus on its campus. In the seven days before Oct. 15, there were only eight new cases among Northwestern students on campus in the seven days until Oct. 15 (see below). That is much lower than the peak week of Sept. 11 through 17 when 20 students tested positive (see below).
The 28 new cases would include the four additional MBA students who tested positive. “Kellogg has had eight positive cases of COVID-19 among students from the period of October 16-October 22,” explained a spokesperson.
It’s possible, moreover, that even the larger university number is an undercount. That’s because the dashboard only includes confirmed case counts based on Northwestern Medicine testing data and fails to include self-reported cases. In addition to the 28 new student cases of COVID, Northwestern reported that six faculty and five staffers also tested positive in the past seven days.
THREE TOP B-SCHOOLS HAVE HAD TO GO ONLINE AFTER OFF-CAMPUS GATHERINGS
Kellogg became the third prominent U.S. business school forced to make all its classes online after an outbreak. Chicago Booth and MIT Sloan School of Management are the other two schools that have had to interrupt their hybrid class schedules. Kellogg is making all full-time MBA courses remote for two weeks until Oct. 30, after tracing an increase in coronavirus cases to several off-campus student gatherings.
At least four Kellogg students tested positive for COVID-19 since Thursday of last week, according to a university spokesperson. After contact tracing those individuals, the university discovered that more than 50 Kellogg students were linked to off-campus social gatherings last week, according to an email from Kellogg Dean Francesca Cornelli.
“Your health and safety are our highest priorities, which is why we are emailing you now, on a Friday evening, after the extent of the situation became clear through the contact tracing efforts this afternoon,” wrote Cornelli. “Since yesterday, four additional Kellogg students have tested positive for COVID-19. Some of those individuals have been traced to the social gatherings referenced above. We are actively working to ensure all community members who were exposed to the virus are notified and tested, but as of this writing, some students have yet to receive tests, and others are awaiting results.”
‘WE ARE DISAPPOINTED THAT WE HAD TO MAKE THIS DECISION’
In addition to the temporary shutdown of in-person classes, Kellogg also issued a “stay-at-home directive” for all of the school’s full-time MBA students. “All Kellogg Full-Time MBA students in the Chicagoland area must adhere to a two-week stay-at-home directive from Friday, October 16 at 10:00 p.m. through Friday, October 30,” according to the school.
“We expect you to avoid all but essential activities, such as going to the grocery store or doctor, or individual outdoor exercise,” wrote the dean. “This also means no formal or informal social gatherings of any kind are permitted. Any violation of this directive can be grounds for disciplinary action, which could include suspension. Similarly, any students who have been identified through contact tracing will be self-quarantining during this time.”
Cornelli expressed disappointment in having to make the decision to move classes online, a departure from the hybrid format Kellogg has been practicing this fall. “We are disappointed that we had to make this decision,” adds Dean Cornelli. “As you know, our objective was always to stay hybrid in our Full-Time MBA program until the Thanksgiving holiday. This is a reminder of how important individual actions are in allowing us to achieve our goals and how quickly this virus can spread. Our ability to return to the hybrid format will depend on many factors, including case and quarantine levels and University and City of Evanston guidelines, as well as individual behavioral actions to help limit spread in our community.”