COLUMBIA, SC - AUGUST 10: College students walk to dinner at the University of South Carolina on August 10, 2020 in Columbia, South Carolina. Students began moving back to campus housing August 9 with classes to start August 20. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
At least 17 states report coronavirus cases at colleges
02:41 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Three dozen Purdue University students were suspended this week for attending an off-campus party, violating the school’s social distancing rules.

Purdue suspended 36 students on Wednesday, Tim Doty, the university’s director of public Information and issues management, told CNN on Friday.

“Purdue University has been clear and consistent with our messaging to students about the Protect Purdue Plan and the expectations they would need to follow if they made the decision to be on campus this fall,” Dr. Katie Sermersheim, associate vice provost and dean of students, said in a statement to CNN.

The Protect Purdue Plan is the school’s strategy to limit the spread of coronavirus. The university is located in West Lafayette, Indiana, in Tippecanoe County, which has 1,402 positive coronavirus cases as of Friday, according to the state health department. Indiana has more than 84,000 cases statewide, according to CNN’s map tracking coronavirus cases across the country.

The suspension comes as K-12 schools, colleges and universities across the country grapple with how to start and safely continue the 2020-21 academic year during a worldwide pandemic.

Sermersheim said Purdue asked students to put large gatherings in confined spaces on hold until the “pandemic can be better understood and controlled.”

“Unfortunately, everything we have done – the months of planning to give our students the opportunity to continue their educational pursuits in person – can be undone in the blink of an eye – with just one party or event that does not follow the rules and guidelines,” Sermersheim’s statement read.

Under the school’s current conduct procedures, Doty said the organization that held the party and the students who attended may appeal the interim suspension. The ultimate sanctioning decision will be made after a full hearing process, Doty said.

Violations of the Protect Purdue Plan will be added to the code of conduct regulations, the school said in a news release. This means students who violate the code could be subject to disciplinary action.

“If you don’t abide by rules, there is no place for you here,” Sermersheim said.

On Friday, Purdue announced its plan for continued surveillance and testing of its nearly 40,000 students. According to the plan, all on-campus employees must undergo required weekly testing and random testing will take place for all students throughout the semester.

Classes at the university are scheduled to begin on Monday.