Bethel College announced a change in status to the campus COVID-19 safety plan in the wake of dozens of new cases found on campus.


Bethel College’s Emergency Response Team, along with the Harvey County Health Department, on Wednesday confirmed 42 known active coronavirus cases at Bethel. These individuals have self-isolated on campus or at their permanent residence. There are 68 individuals in quarantine, mostly on campus. Some test results are pending.


The college moved to the "orange" status of its campus COVID-19 Safety Plan Thursday.


The orange status is the fourth of six levels in Bethel’s COVID-19 Safety Plan. The orange level requires instruction be moved to a hybrid model and prohibits nonessential guests on campus.


"We have moved into the Orange Status to reduce the number of person-to-person interactions on campus," Bethel College president Jon Gering said in a statement. "This is a common and appropriate way to respond to the increase in cases we’ve experienced over the last week."


The college previously elevated its precautionary measures to a "yellow" status Saturday when new cases began to be confirmed.


"Bethel has been aggressive in monitoring and identifying COVID-19 symptoms among its student body, faculty and staff," said Harvey County Health Department director Lynnette Redington. "The college has been in continued communication with us. We are encouraged by the college’s decisive actions to protect the health of its campus and our communities."


A cluster of COVID-19 cases was first identified Aug. 17 at Bethel. COVID-19 precautions have continued. Bethel requires daily temperature checks, health status monitoring through a self-screening app, and individuals to wear a face mask indoors and outdoors on campus.


"Our symptom tracking efforts and antigen-testing capabilities have been essential in monitoring the spread of coronavirus on campus," Gering said. "I am also grateful for the excellent on-campus care from our nursing staff and Office of Student Life. It’s difficult to be in isolation or quarantine, and a friendly face and compassionate caregivers help pass the time."


Additional information for students, staff, faculty and the community can be found on Bethel’s COVID-19 information clearinghouse at www.bethelks.edu/coronavirus-information.