(CNN) — Two students tested positive for COVID-19, and as many as 200 others may have been exposed, after taking the ACT college admissions test at an Oklahoma high school.
The two students tested positive for the virus Sunday, just one day after taking the ACT at Edmond North High School on July 18, according to an ACT spokesperson.
“Upon learning of these positive tests, the school immediately contacted local public health officials, notified ACT, and we have informed all students and test monitors in attendance that day,” Tarah DeSousa, the spokesperson, told CNN.
“As part of ACT’s test center social distancing guidelines, students and monitors were asked to complete a series of COVID-19 symptom and travel screening questions, instructed to practice social distancing guidelines while on campus, and it was recommended that masks be worn by all.”
Students, parents, and test administrators who were in the same testing center as the two students received emails from ACT officials alerting them that they were likely “within the area of one or both of these students for up to 15 minutes.”
However, those who took the exam in the same room as the students received a different email warning them that they were probably around the students for hours.
“According to seat assignments, it’s likely that you or your child were on the same floor or room as one or both of these students for up to four hours,” said an ACT email obtained by CNN.
Fears over testing practices
ACT officials were under fire the same weekend after nearly 1,400 students showed up to their testing locations only to find that the test was canceled without warning.
But for one parent, a cancellation would have been a blessing in disguise.
Greta Rasmussen DeCoster’s son, high-schooler Frederick DeCoster, was one of many students taking the ACT on Saturday in Wood County, Wisconsin.
While no coronavirus cases have been reported from his testing center, Frederick DeCoster is now one week into a 14-day quarantine after fearing he may have been exposed to the virus by a student who he said appeared ill. He is worried that if he was exposed, he could pass it on to family members who may be more at risk.
The 18-year-old senior was placed in a room with about 16 other students, only one who was wearing a mask, with a desk in between each of them, he said.
“The proctor waited to ask us if anyone tested positive for COVID or came in contact with someone who tested positive after we were already sitting grouped together,” Frederick DeCoster told CNN.
“Almost no one was wearing a mask, even the proctor was constantly taking it off. I didn’t feel safe. Then there was a kid sitting behind me sneezing, coughing hard, breathing really heavily. If you were to describe someone with coronavirus showing all the symptoms, it would be this guy. I was really worried.”
Although ACT guidelines require test centers to position desks six feet apart, only test center staff are required to wear masks. Students are recommended to wear masks during testing, but not required unless there is a local mask mandate.
The DeCosters said they filed a complaint with ACT officials to bring awareness to what goes on inside testing centers, but were told the investigation would likely take five weeks — which Greta Rasmussen DeCoster said is more than enough time “for many other students to get the virus from an ACT testing center.”
“He was already angry when they started the test, but as soon as it started he realized the boy seated directly behind him was wheezing, breathing extremely loud and fast, sniffling, and repeatedly clearing his throat,” she told CNN.
“As a mother I immediately thought of all the other families who attended that test center and hundreds of others around the country that day, who may not be aware that CDC guidelines were not followed at every test center, and who may be at risk or have someone in their family at risk if their child was exposed.”
With states across the country bringing children back to school, Greta Rasmussen DeCoster hopes education officials learn from the ACT’s issues and incorporate them in their models for how schools and universities can reopen successfully and safely,
A plea to cancel the ACT/SAT requirement
Before the coronavirus pandemic, students spent years stressing about scoring high enough on their standardized tests to get into their dream schools. Now they’re still stressing, not just over scores, but also about possibly contracting a dangerous virus.
For FrederickDeCoster, who said he “blew the exam” because he could not concentrate on anything but his fear of contracting COVID and exposing his immunocompromised mother to the virus, the issue is about more than just the ACT.
“Many students don’t have the chance to take off work or travel to take the ACT,” he said. “I’m lucky to be able to study and then travel to retake the test, but in doing so, me and my family’s health has been put at risk because they ignored all screening and mask guidelines.”
Many other parents and students worry that standardized tests, including the ACT and SAT, are giving privileged students an undue advantage, especially amid the pandemic. Not everyone can afford paying for exam tutoring, taking off work to travel hours back and forth or renting a hotel for the night.
While some US colleges and universities have already suspended ACT and SAT tests as an admission requirement until 2024, many parents and students fear that not taking the test — even if it isn’t a requirement — could hurt their chances of getting accepted into a good school.
“This has nothing to do with academics anymore,” Greta Rasmussen DeCoster said. “This is a life or death situation and that’s why I’m mad. They put my child’s life at risk and there’s really no other way to put it.”
- Indiana State Department of Health coronavirus information (includes phone number to state hotline)
- WISH-TV coronavirus coverage
- WISH-TV’s “Gr8 Comeback”
- Original Indiana Back on Track plan
- Revised Stage 3 of Indiana Back on Track plan (May 12-June 13)
- Revised Stage 4 of Indiana Back on Track plan (June 12-July 3)
- Governor’s order, July 1: Stage 4.5 of Indiana Back on Track plan
- Governor’s order, Aug. 26: Extension of Stage 4.5 of Indiana Back on Track plan
- Gleaners Food Bank distribution sites in Indianapolis area, south central Indiana
- Second Harvest of East Central Indiana “tailgate” food distribution sites
- Food Finders distribution sites in west and north central Indiana
- Coronavirus COVID-19 global cases map from John Hopkins University
- CDC’s coronavirus page
- Marion County Public Health Department coronavirus information
- U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program
- Indiana PPE Directory (for businesses, nonprofits and schools only)
Indiana coronavirus timeline
With updated information from the Indiana Department of Health through Sept. 16, this timeline reflects updated tallies of deaths and positive tests prior to that date.
- March 6: Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) confirms the first case in Indiana. Officials say the Marion County resident had recently traveled to Boston to attend a BioGen conference as a contractor.
- March 8: ISDH confirms a second case. An adult in Hendricks County who had also traveled to the BioGen conference was placed in isolation. Noblesville Schools say a parent and that parent’s children will be self-quarantining after attending an out-of-state event where someone else tested positive.
- March 9: Avon Community School Corp. says a student on March 8 tested positive.
- March 10: ISDH launches an online tracker. Ball State University basketball fans learn the Mid-American Conference tourney will have no fans in the stands. Three businesses operating nursing homes in Indiana announce they will no longer allow visitors.
- March 11: The Indianapolis-based NCAA announces the Final Four basketball tournaments will be conducted with essential staff and limited family attendance. The Big Ten announces all sports events, including the men’s basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, will have no fans starting March 12. Ball State University suspends in-person classes the rest of the spring semester. NBA suspends all games, including the Indiana Pacers, until further notice. Butler University and the University of Indianapolis extend spring break, after which they will have virtual classes.
- March 12: Gov. Eric Holcomb announces new protections that led to extended public school closings and the cancellation of large events across the state. The NCAA cancels its basketball tournaments. The Big Ten suspends all sporting events through the winter and spring seasons. The league including the Indy Fuel hockey team suspends its season. Indy Eleven says it will reschedule four matches. Indianapolis’ annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is canceled.
- March 13: The Indiana High School Athletic Association postpones the boys basketball tournament. Wayzata Home Products, a Connersville cabinet maker, shuts down and lays off its entire workforce due to market uncertainty. Gov. Holcomb announces actions including the elimination of Medicaid co-pays for COVID-19 testing and the lifting of limits on the number of work hours per day for drivers of commercial vehicles. Franklin College says it will begin online classes March 18 and empty residence halls of students in two days. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis closes indefinitely. The Indianapolis Public Library joins other libraries across Indiana and closes all facilities indefinitely.
- March 14: The Indiana Gaming Commission says all licensed gaming and racing operations will close in two days for an indefinite period.
- March 15: Indiana had its first death. St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis announces it will suspend all elective, non-urgent surgeries.
- March 16: Indiana had its second death. Gov. Holcomb announced the first Hoosier death. He closes bars, restaurants and nightclubs to in-person patrons, but maintains carryout and delivery services.
- March 17: Indiana had its third and fourth deaths. ISDH announces Indiana’s second death. Indiana’s Catholic bishops cancel masses indefinitely. Gov. Holcomb activates the National Guard. Purdue, Butler and Indiana State universities cancel May commencement ceremonies.
- March 18: Indiana had its fifth death. Eli Lilly and Co. says it will use its labs to speed up testing in Indiana. The 500 Festival suspends all events. Simon Property Group closes all malls and retail properties.
- March 19: Gov. Holcomb extends Indiana’s state of emergency into May. Holcomb says he’ll close all K-12 public and nonpublic schools. Standardized testing was canceled. The state’s income-tax and corporate-tax payment deadline was extended to July 15. Holcomb says the state will waive job search requirements for people applying for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. The IHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament was canceled. The Marion County Emergency Operations Center upgrades to Level 1 status.
- March 20: Indiana’s death toll rose to 9. ISDH announces Indiana’s third death. Gov. Holcomb moves the state’s primary election to June 2. Indiana University says it is postponing May commencement ceremonies on all campuses.
- March 21: Indiana’s death toll rises to 14. ISDH announces Indiana’s fourth death. Indiana National Guard says it and the Department of Transportation are distributing medical supplies to hospitals.
- March 22: Indiana’s death toll rises to 19. ISDH announces seven deaths.
- March 23: Indiana’s death toll rises to 24. Holcomb orders Hoosiers deemed nonessential to “stay at home” from March 24-April 7. Eli Lilly & Co. begins drive-thru testing for the coronavirus for health care workers with a doctor’s order. Ball State University cancels the May commencement.
- March 24: Indiana’s death toll rises to 29. Fred Payne of Indiana Workforce Development says any Hoosiers out of work, including temporary layoffs, are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits.
- March 25: Indiana’s death toll rises to 35. Indianapolis Motor Speedway announces the Indianapolis 500 is moved to Aug. 23.
- March 26: Indiana’s death toll rises to 44.
- March 27: Indiana’s death toll rises to 47.
- March 28: Indiana’s death toll rises to 58.
- March 29: Indiana’s death toll rises to 76.
- March 30: Indiana’s death toll rises to 91.
- March 31: Indiana’s death toll rises above 100, to 113. Gov. Holcomb extends the limits of bars and restaurants to offer only “to go” and “carryout” through April 6. Indiana health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box, asked about when Indiana will be in a surge of COVID-19 cases, says she thinks the surge is starting.
- April 1: Officials extend Marion County’s “stay at home” order through May 1. Marion County health officials say they will start COVID-19 testing services for front-line employees.
- April 2: The state announces K-12 schools will be closed for the rest of the school year. The Indiana High School Athletic Association cancels spring sports seasons.
- April 3: Gov. Holcomb extends the “stay at home” order through April 20. The state receives a federal Major Disaster Declaration for all 92 counties. The Indiana National Guard says it, the Army Corps of Engineers and state health officials will begin to assess sites for alternate health care facilities.
- April 4: Indiana’s death toll rises above 200.
- April 6: The state reports a Madison County nursing home has had 11 deaths. Gov. Holcomb extends the “stay at home” order through April 20. He also limits additional businesses to carry-out only.
- April 7: Indiana’s death toll rises above 300. Indiana health commissioner Box says four long-term care facilities have 22 deaths that appear to be related to COVID-19.
- April 10: ISDH said 24 residents of a long-term care facility in Madison County have died from COVID-related illness.
- April 11: Indiana’s death toll rises above 400.
- April 14: Indiana’s death toll rises above 500.
- April 16: Indiana records more than 10,000 positive coronavirus tests. The governor says he expects Indiana to experience a reopening in early May.
- April 17: Indiana’s death toll rises above 600. The governor says that he will extend the “stay at home” order through May 1.
- April 20: Indiana’s death toll rises above 700. Gov. Holcomb extends the “stay at home” order to May 1. The governor also says, if the medical supply chain is in good shape, other elective medical procedures can resume April 27.
- April 22: Indiana’s death toll rises above 800. The Tyson facility in Logansport voluntarily closes so 2,200 employees can be tested for COVID-19.
- April 24: Indiana’s death toll rises above 900. The Indianapolis City-County Council approves $25 million to help small businesses. Fishers City Council creates a city health department with a plan to test every resident.
- April 25: ISDH says it will launch an antibody testing study for Hoosiers; thousands of residents were randomly selected to participate in the study.
- April 27: Indiana’s death toll rises above 1,000.
- April 28: Indiana officials say they will open COVID-19 testing to more Hoosiers, with expanded criteria and new testing services at 20 sites around the state.
- April 29: The state says it will spent $43 million on contact tracing.
- April 30: Indianapolis extends its stay-at-home order through May 15.
- May 1: Gov. Holcomb announces a phased reopening plan for the state of Indiana. He also extends the stay-at-home order to May 4.
- May 3: Indiana records more than 20,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- May 4: Indiana enters Stage 2 of its Back on Track plan, which excludes Cass County until May 18, and Lake and Marion counties until May 11.
- May 6:The state begins testing for all Hoosiers at 20 sites, with plans to expand the number of sites to 50 in a week. Ivy Tech Community College says it will continue virtual classes when summer courses begin in June.
- May 8: Cris Johnston, director of the Office of Budget and Management, says the state missed out on nearly $1 billion in anticipated April revenues; all state agencies will be given budget-cutting goals. Purdue University OKs plans to reopen for the fall semester with social distancing and other safety measures.
- May 10: Indiana’s death toll rises above 1,500.
- May 13: Indiana’s death toll rises above 1,600.The first phase of a state-sponsored study of the coronavirus estimated about 186,000 Hoosiers had COVID-19 or the antibodies for the novel virus by May 1. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced plans for limited reopenings of worship services, retail establishments, libraries and restaurants.
- May 15: Simon Property Group reopens Castleton Square Mall, Circle Centre Mall, and Fashion Mall at Keystone
- May 16: Indiana’s death toll rises above 1,700.
- May 17: Marion County’s death toll rises above 500.
- May 18: Indiana reports its first case of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in a child. The Farbest Foods turkey-processing plant in Huntingburg is closed for three days; 91 people had tested positive there.
- May 19: Indiana’s death toll rises above 1,800.
- May 21: Indiana records more than 30,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- May 22: Indiana advances to Stage 3 of the Back on Track reopening plan. Indianapolis closes portions of five streets to allow restaurants to reopen with outdoor dining only.
- May 23: Indiana’s death toll rises above 1,900.
- May 27: The U.S. death toll rises above 100,000. Indiana University says the fall semester will have in-person and online courses, plus an adjusted calendar through May 2021. Ball State University says the fall semester will be 13 straight weeks of in-person classes with no day off on Labor Day and no fall break.
- May 28: Indiana’s death toll rises above 2,000.
- May 29: Places of worship in Marion County can begin holding indoor services at 50% capacity with proper social distancing. Jim Schellinger, Indiana secretary of commerce, said the federal Paycheck Protection Program has made 73,430 loans in Indiana totaling $9,379,164,461, the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan program has made 5,070 loans in Indiana totaling $445,428,500, and the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans Advance program has made 38,365 grants in Indiana totaling $136,554,000.
- June 1: Marion County restaurants begins serving customers indoors and outdoors with 50% capacity. Marion County salons, tattoo parlors reopen by appointment only. Marion County gyms, fitness centers and pools reopen with 50% capacity and no contact sports. However, a Marion County curfew that began the night of May 31 and continued into the morning of June 3 after rioting impacted the reopening of some businesses.
- June 3: Indiana’s death toll rises above 2,100. Phase 2 of statewide testing of random Hoosiers by the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI and the Indiana State Department of Health begins.
- June 5: Indiana reports May tax revenues were 20% short of projections made before the coronavirus closings started.
- June 8: Indiana’s death toll rises above 2,200. Indianapolis leaders agree to spend $79 million in coronavirus relief funding on contact tracing, rent relief, personal protective equipment and support for small businesses.
- June 12: Indiana, excluding Marion County, advances to Stage 4 of reopening plan.
- June 14: Indiana’s death toll rises above 2,300.
- June 15: Casinos and parimutuel racing reopen in the state. Marion County’s public libraries begin a phased reopening.
- June 19: Marion County advances to Stage 4 of state’s reopening plan.
- June 21: Indiana’s death toll rises above 2,400.
- June 24: The governor says the state’s moratorium on the eviction on renters will be extended through July. Indiana announces it will create a rental assistance program July 13. Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon says he has tested positive for COVID-19.
- June 27: Indiana hospitalizations for COVID-19 begin to increase, with about 33 new patients a day through July 1.
- July 1: Indiana’s death toll rises above 2,500. The governor pauses Stage 5 final reopening plan, announces Stage 4.5 from July 4-17.
- July 4: Indiana’s Stage 4.5 reopening plan begins.
- July 9: Indiana records more than 50,000 positive coronavirus tests. Marion County mandates mask-wearing.
- July 10: Indianapolis Public Schools announces its reopening plans.
- July 11: Indy Eleven resumes 2020 season with victory at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis reopens.
- July 12: Indiana’s death toll rises above 2,600.
- July 13: Indiana begins rental assistance program for all counties but Marion County. Marion County begins its own rental assistance program.
- July 15: Indiana announces the Stage 4.5 reopening plan will continue another two weeks. The WNBA season will begin.
- July 16: Indianapolis suspends applications for its rental assistance program due to overwhelming demand.
- July 22: Indiana’s death toll rises above 2,700.
- July 23: Indiana records more than 60,000 positive coronavirus tests. MLB begins delayed season.
- July 24: Bars, taverns and nightclubs in Indianapolis are shut down again. City officials also return to other previous restrictions.
- July 25: Indiana Fever begins WNBA season after delays.
- July 27: Indiana governor’s order to wear face coverings begins. Great Lakes Valley Conference, which including University of Indianapolis, postpones most fall sports, including football, men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball, until spring.
- July 30: NBA season resumes.
- Aug. 2: Indiana’s death toll rises above 2,800.
- Aug. 4: Indianapolis Motor Speedway announces the Aug. 23 Indianapolis 500 will be run without fans.
- Aug. 5: With more than 1,000 positive tests reported in a single day, Indiana jumps to a total of 70,993 positive coronavirus tests.
- Aug. 10: Indiana records more than 75,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Aug. 11: The Big Ten announces it won’t play football this fall.
- Aug. 12: Indiana’s death toll rises above 2,900. With more than 1,000 positive tests reported in a single day, Indiana records more than 77,000 positive coronavirus tests. Delta Middle School and Delta High School were closed through Aug. 24 after 228 students went into quarantine; students were moved to e-learning.
- Aug. 13: With more than 1,000 positive tests reported in a single day, Indiana records more than 78,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Aug. 14: With more than 1,000 positive tests reported in a single day, Indiana records more than 79,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Aug. 17: Indianapolis Public Schools restarts with online-only classes. News 8 learns the 2021 NBA All-Star Game will not happen on Presidents Day weekend in 2021.
- Aug. 20: Indiana’s death toll rises above 3,000. Purdue University suspends 36 students after a party at a co-op.
- Aug. 21: Indiana high school football season begins with some teams not playing due to COVID-19 concerns.
- Aug. 23: Butler University tells undergraduates that instruction will occur remotely for the first two weeks of the semester, starting Aug. 24, instead of in classrooms.
- Aug. 24: Purdue, Indiana, IUPUI and Ball State universities resume in-person classes.
- Aug. 25: Reports say a fraternity, a sorority and a cooperative house at Purdue University are under quarantines.
- Aug. 26: Indiana records more than 90,000 positive coronavirus tests. Gov. Holcomb extends the mask mandate through Sept. 25. Indiana’s rental assistance program will take applications for one last day.
- Aug. 27: Indiana University says eight Greek houses are under 14-day quarantines.
- Aug. 29: Indiana’s death toll rises to 3,100.
- Sept. 1: Indiana records more than 95,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Sept. 2: With more than 1,100 new cases, Indiana records more than 96,000 positive coronavirus tests. Indiana University tells 30 Greek houses in Bloomington to quarantine.
- Sept. 3: With more than 1,000 new cases, Indiana records more than 97,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Sept. 4: With more than 1,000 new cases, Indiana records more than 98,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Sept. 6: Indiana records more than 100,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Sept. 8: Indiana records more than 101,000 positive coronavirus tests. Marion County allows bars and nightclubs to reopen with 25% capacity indoors and 50% capacity outdoors.
- Sept. 9: Indiana records more than 102,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Sept. 10: Indiana’s death toll rises above 3,200. With more than 1,200 new cases, Indiana records more than 103,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Sept. 11: With more than 1,000 new cases, Indiana records more than 104,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Sept. 12: With more than 1,200 new cases, Indiana records more than 105,000 positive coronavirus tests. The Indianapolis Colts open their season with a loss in a Jacksonville stadium with a limited number of fans.
- Sept. 13: Indiana records more than 106,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Sept. 14: Indiana records more than 107,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Sept. 16: Indiana records more than 108,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Sept. 20: The Indianapolis Colts home opener will be limited to 2,500 fans.
- Sept. 26: Stage 4.5 of Indiana Back on Track plan to end. Indiana mask mandate to end.
- Sept. 27: The Indianapolis Colts second home game will be limited to 7,500 fans.
- Oct. 23: The Big Ten will begin football season.
- Nov. 25: The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball seasons will begin the day before Thanksgiving with no fans in the stands.