COVID-19 Roundup: 6% of a College's Students Have It

More than 400 students at Georgia College have COVID-19; Arizona State releases health data, in part; Oregon goes virtual; and Towson and North Carolina State largely close campuses to students.

August 27, 2020
 

A total of 447 people -- 427 of them students -- at Georgia College have contracted COVID-19, according to the college's public dashboard. That is more than 6 percent of the nearly 7,000 students at the public liberal arts institution.

Inside Higher Ed's reporting has not to date revealed any other campus with anywhere near that proportion of COVID-19 positivity among the student body.

To be clear, these are cumulative numbers and not the number of current positive cases. They do not reflect those students and employees who have recovered and completed their quarantine periods.

Omar Odeh, associate vice president for strategic communications at the college, said the large number of COVID-19 cases are "cumulative" and include "students and employees who have recovered and completed their quarantine periods." But the college's dashboard shows 391 cases reported in the last eight days, through Tuesday.

Faculty members at Georgia estimate that between a quarter and a third of Georgia College's students are in quarantine because of possible exposure to the coronavirus. Odeh did not respond to emails seeking confirmation of that estimate.

The college is scheduled to host an in-person student affairs event today, to the consternation of some professors.

Odeh said that the event, the Bobcat Marketplace, would "take place outdoors, masks will be required, and all CDC and Georgia Department of Public Health safety precautions will be followed and enforced."


Arizona State University has come under criticism in recent weeks for declining to publish data about the spread of COVID-19 among its 100,000-plus students and employees, citing privacy concerns. On Wednesday, the university responded -- partially.

In a message to the campus, President Michael Crow said that the university had test results from 32,729 students and employees and has "161 known positive cases within our community," including students and staff members on and off the campus.

Crow said he knew that there "has been and will continue to be interest in this number," and he committed to "regular updates about our COVID management strategy."

But in response to an inquiry from Inside Higher Ed, an Arizona State spokesman acknowledged via email that the university did not plan to "have a dashboard/website, etc. with a running total. But we will have regular updates on trends -- and we will be disclosing case counts in the future updates."

University officials have previously cited privacy concerns as a reason not to publish COVID-19 case data regularly, but experts have dismissed that as a valid reason not to publish information that is not personally identifiable.


Wednesday brought more major universities pulling back on or fully abandoning plans for on-campus instruction and living.

  • North Carolina State University, which last week said it would move all undergraduate instruction to virtual settings, went a step further Wednesday and said it would move all students -- except those granted an exception -- out of on-campus housing. "We hoped and strived to keep residence halls open and safe to best serve our students," Chancellor Randy Woodson said. "However, the rapid spread and increasing rate of positive cases have made our current situation untenable." North Carolina State also delayed its first football game after two dozen COVID-19 cases hit its athletics program, causing a pause in activity.
  • Towson University, which previously had delayed the start of in-person instruction, said it would conduct the full fall semester virtually and would move all residential students except those who have no alternative out of campus housing.
  • The University of Oregon said it would shift to primarily remote instruction but would continue to bring all first-year students who want to enroll in person to the campus. President Michael Schill also addressed the subject of tuition and fees, "because I know it will be a question that many students and families will ask about. Even as we shift to a predominantly remote experience, the cost of providing a UO education has not changed nor has the value of a UO degree. We still have to pay our faculty; we still provide academic and career advisors; we still maintain our facilities. In fact, we have increased expenses associated with providing the technological infrastructure for remote and online education and made additional investments in testing, health care, risk reduction strategies, and on-campus programs. For those reasons, and to maintain the long-term viability of the institution, we cannot reduce tuition."

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