Swarthmore Student Tests Positive for COVID-19

Mary Lyons dormitory on September 10, 2018 on the campus of Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, PA. (Photo by Emma Ricci-De Lucca ’21)

At 12:25 p.m. on Sept. 12, Vice President for Student Affairs Jim Terhune sent an email to on-campus Swarthmore students confirming that a Swarthmore student tested positive for COVID-19. The student is the first student to test positive since Swarthmore began mass testing protocols on August 31.

The college has already completed contact tracing protocols and has moved the infected individual into Mary Lyon Hall, a part of Swarthmore’s designated isolation housing. The infected individual is currently the only person residing at Mary Lyon. The infected student reported that while they are allowed to move within the dorm and certain outside areas near the dorm, their meals are delivered. Individuals who have close contact in the past 48 hours with the infected student have been moved into quarantine housing, which is The Inn at Swarthmore.

The infected individual was first made aware of their positive test results via their personal portal with the testing company Everlywell late at night on September 11. After receiving the test results, they immediately notified Casey Anderson, director of student health and wellness at the college. College officials contacted the student early in the morning on Sept. 12, and by noon the student and their close contacts had moved to their respective designated locations. Neither the student nor their close contacts have shown any symptoms so far.

It is currently ambiguous how and where the student contracted COVID-19. The student reported that they had not been part of any parties or mass gatherings and that they had generally followed Garnet Pledge guidelines; they did, however, take a shopping trip to Target in the past week. 

According to the Testing Results section of the Swarthmore website, two college employees have also tested positive during the September 7 – September 13 round of testing. 

We will publish a follow-up as soon as we receive more information.

Featured image courtesy of Emma Ricci-De Lucca for The Phoenix

Anatole Shukla

Anatole Shukla '22 is an Editor Emeritus of The Phoenix. He is from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and studied economics, linguistics, and Russian language while at Swarthmore.

Nicole Liu

Nicole Liu '21 grew up in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China, but came of age in Boston. She has run out of cool facts about herself. (For more information, consult her bios for the English Liaison Committee, the Writing Center, and maybe the upcoming issue of Small Craft Warnings.)


  1. I can only wish you well. I’m sure you’ll be well cared for, guess you just hsve to ride the wave. Best of luck. Peace be with you.

  2. Thank you for this reporting. My sister and her husband stayed at the Inn yesterday night (9/12 – 9/13). My husband, Prof Art McGarity and I, would have expected the Inn to have informed us of students’ being quarantined there, at this time, due to this exposure. We would have cancelled our family’s reservation, “out of an abundance of caution.” Public and college community trust has been violated, if your facts are true.

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