Students are returning to college campuses across the US, and several universities are already detecting cases of coronavirus that have led to quarantines and a return to remote learning in at least two cases.
The University of Notre Dame in Indiana announced Tuesday that undergraduates would be learning remotely for the next two weeks after a spike in Covid-19 cases since students returned to campus on August 3. As of Thursday, 304 students had tested positive, according to the school’s online health dashboard.
“The objective of these temporary restrictions is to contain the spread of the virus so that we can get back to in person instruction,” Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins said.
North Carolina State University will move all undergraduates to online only learning starting Monday after parties caused clusters of cases, Chancellor Randy Woodson said in a letter posted on the university’s website.
Boston University is reporting 16 positive cases of Covid-19 since testing began on campus July 27. Four of those positive cases were reported Tuesday, out of 965 tests conducted, which is a 0.4% positivity rate.
Emerson College, also in Boston, is reporting one positive Covid-19 case since they began testing August 10. According to Emerson’s website, that individual is now “receiving appropriate care.”
Cases also have been reported at colleges and universities in Kentucky, North Carolina, Alabama, Arizona, Massachusetts, Mississippi and elsewhere.
Here’s what’s happening across the country
Parties push a rise in cases
Since school began on August 3, 225 people have tested positive at the University of Kentucky, according to its Covid-19 dashboard.
A significant number of parties, which violated the school’s student code, has led to the rise in cases, according to Sarah Geegan, the university’s director of executive communication.
The university was notified of 11 party-related citations from the weekend of August 8-9 and 10 citations from the weekend of August 15-16.
“We are working closely with the city to enforce the Code of Student Conduct, sharing information daily and meeting weekly to discuss issues of concern,” Geegan told CNN.
The 3% positivity rate at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, gave Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson “hope that everyone was doing their part,” he wrote in a letter to the campus community Tuesday, but student parties are a cause of concern.
“But then, the weekend comes and we see a small but visible fraction of our total student body scare us and the community with parties that are too large, too dense, unmasked, and irresponsible. While we had no party nearly as large as that reported in week one, we still had two dozen parties over the past weekend to which ECU Police and Greenville Police responded.”
On Monday, the university sent out an alert to the community about a new cluster of cases in a residence hall, but did not specify how many students were affected or how many are under quarantine.
All 155 students in one dorm at Colorado College in Colorado Springs have been forced to quarantine after the college learned of a student who tested positive and did not practice proper social distancing guidelines.
“Unfortunately, today we learned that the enhanced social distancing protocols – which we expect of all students as they await their test results – were not followed,” Acting Dean of Students Rochelle T. Dickey and Vice President and Chair of the Prevention Work Team Brian Young wrote in an email sent to the college community on Sunday.
Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville, Mississippi, shared that “around 300” students are in quarantine, according to the school’s president, Ricky G. Ford, on the school’s official podcast.
The college has around 3,200 students, which means around 10% of the student body is being quarantined.
At Iowa State University, where 175 students living in residence halls and campus apartments had tested positive, students are isolating in rooms provided by the university, the school said in a statement.
Greek life, interrupted
At North Carolina State University, at least seven Greek houses have been quarantined, the chancellor wrote.
“We’re seeing significant infections in Greek life, and at this time there have been another seven Greek houses that have been quarantined due to a number of additional positive cases,” the chancellor said. It’s unclear how many are in quarantine in total.
“In the last two days alone, we’ve identified three COVID-19 clusters in off-campus and Greek Village houses that can be traced to parties and behavior outside of our community standards and the governor’s mandates,” Woodson said.
More than 500 students are in quarantine or isolation, the chancellor said.
An entire Oklahoma State University sorority house is under quarantine after 23 members tested positive for Covid-19, according to the university. CNN reported the sorority house is in isolation or quarantine after the confirmed cases, and residents “will be prohibited from leaving the facility,” the university said.
Efforts to trace and slow the spread
The University of Arizona, which said it had 15 positive cases on campus as of Wednesday, announced a Covid Watch smartphone app, “which allows users who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 to anonymously notify others who may have been exposed.” According to the university’s website, if the app is successful on campus, the goal is for it to be used statewide.
At Auburn University in Alabama, everyone on campus is required to wear a face covering indoors and out. The university reported 41 cases on campus between August 8-14.
CNN’s Jamiel Lynch, Jennifer Henderson and Raja Razek contributed to this report.