By Corine Hwang
At the beginning of March, several universities and colleges sent home their students due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. At St. Mary’s, the college originally planned two weeks of online instruction after spring break. However, due to the rising number of cases in Maryland, the college decided to continue online learning for the remainder of the spring semester.
This past summer break has allowed schools all around the country to figure out how fall semesters will operate. Many have planned for students to come back on campus and have required those who want to come back to submit negative COVID results. However, a handful of institutions have already reported a high number of confirmed cases on their respective campuses and therefore have decided to send their students home, some not even two weeks into their semester.
One of the first was the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. According to the Washington Post, the university reported that of 954 people tested, 130 tested positive. Just this past week, 470 new cases were reported. The New York Times further stated that when 5,800 students lived on campus, about 350 of the students were in quarantine. They sent their students home just one week after starting their semester.
Other public North Carolina institutions have also shut down their residence halls. North Carolina State University and East Carolina University are among those schools. The News & Observer stated that North Carolina State reported 546 cases since March. Less than a week after all undergraduates moved in, the school sent their students home. According to their official website, East Carolina had over 465 students tested positive in the week of August 31. The News & Observer also reported that at the beginning of August, over 20 parties were reported and shut down, one having over 400 people.
CNN reported last week that Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland sent their students home after testing 627 people, and of those, 55 were positive. The school is issuing refunds and allowing certain students with special circumstances to stay on campus.
Before these reopenings, many schools implemented new guidelines on social distancing and restrictions on parties and other large gatherings. However, schools have reported that there have been functions that do not adhere to coronavirus safety protocols instated by the school and state, as well as having concerns over off-campus gatherings. These have been reported to be major causes in large spikes of positive cases.
Many other schools have been reporting alarming amounts of new cases. University of Notre Dame, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Central Florida, University of Georgia, and Auburn University are just a few that have all reported high rates of positive tests.
Although UNC Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, East Carolina University, and Towson University are the schools that have temporarily shut down their campuses and moved to all remote learning so far, more cases seem to be rising in other schools and in other states. This makes it a definite possibility that more shutdowns are to come.