COVID-19 Roundup: Residence Hall Quarantines

Colleges quarantine dormitory residents and temporarily flip classes online. Providence College president apologizes for impact of campus outbreak on community and state.

September 28, 2020

Colorado State University quarantined nearly 1,000 residents of two dormitories after wastewater monitoring showed a “significantly high level” of COVID-19 at the two residences, The Denver Post reported. The university said in a message to students that the levels “are many times higher than others that we have detected on campus in past samples and indicate that a number of students in your hall are likely positive for COVID-19.” Colorado State has reported 326 COVID-19 cases since late May.

Providence College, a Roman Catholic college in Rhode Island, extended a student stay-at-home order and period of remote-only learning for an additional week, through Oct. 3, due to continuing concerns about new COVID-19 cases. The college first imposed the stay-at-home order and switched to remote course delivery on Sept. 18.

Providence College reported 201 total positive cases on its COVID-19 dashboard as of Friday. The president, the Reverend Kenneth R. Sicard, apologized for the outbreak at the college and its impact on residents of the local community and the state as a whole.

“The PC outbreak has been a strong contributing factor to Rhode Island being placed once again on the restricted travel lists of several states,” Father Sicard wrote in a universitywide message. “We also are aware that the 02908 zip code has had one of the highest incidences of COVID-19 positivity in the city of Providence. In addition to being a temporary home for PC students who live off-campus, this neighborhood is also the permanent home of many working families who depend on their health to earn a living. We apologize sincerely for our part in exacerbating COVID-19 positivity rates in the state, and for putting the health of residents at risk.”

Reversals in Colleges' Fall 2020 Reopening Plans

Scores of colleges and universities have in recent weeks changed the plans they set last spring for reopening their physical campuses this fall. This tracker and searchable database shows how those changes have unfolded over time.

View Inside Higher Ed’s Live Data Tracker »

Marquette University, a Jesuit university in Milwaukee, ordered students living in Cobeen Hall to quarantine for two weeks, the second such dormwide quarantine at Marquette since the start of the semester, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.

Marquette said it is working to contain a "confirmed cluster of increasing COVID-19 cases among residents of the hall."

While administrators encouraged students not to return home to avoid infecting their families, the Journal-Sentinel reported that students could be seen moving out on Saturday.

Marquette has reported 165 total COVID cases since Aug. 21.

Olivet College, a Christian college enrolling roughly 1,000 students in Michigan, is switching to remote instruction for two weeks, the Battle Creek Inquirer reported. The college reported 17 COVID cases and 95 students in quarantine as of Friday.

Campbell University, a Christian institution in North Carolina, will halt in-person undergraduate instruction for two weeks in favor of remote instruction due to a surge in COVID cases. As of Friday, the university reported 22 current cases among on-campus students, 19 among off-campus students and five among faculty and staff.

On Sunday, two more institutions pivoted to remote-only learning to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Merrimack College, an independent college in Massachusetts, said Sunday that "out of an enormous abundance of caution" it would pivot to online-only learning this week, as it has begun seeing a small number of COVID-19 cases beyond the major outbreak in one of its residence halls.

And officials at Michigan Technological University said that given a surge in cases in its local county, the university would shift to remote-only instruction for two weeks starting Wednesday at the latest.

"For 135 years, Michigan Tech has been proud to call Houghton home. Now, more than ever, we must stand united in support of our neighbors and friends," President Rich Koubek wrote. "The community is counting on us to be as vigilant as ever. I know we will do our part to help mitigate the spread of the virus."

Casper College, a community college in Wyoming, will quarantine all students living in residence halls to allow time for contact tracing after mass testing in the dorms found new asymptomatic cases, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. The college said last week it would test the roughly 360 people living in residence halls after an outbreak among athletes.

Casper College reported 47 active cases as of Sept. 25, up from 21 the week before.

Saginaw Valley State University, in Michigan, canceled all team athletic activities until further notice after multiple student athletes attended a party associated with a COVID-19 outbreak, Michigan Live reported. The university reported 20 new cases Friday, most of which were associated with the off-campus gathering.

The university said it had quarantined attendees at the party and instructed them to get tested. It also said students who attended the party will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct for disciplinary action.

Pennsylvania State University reported nearly 450 new cases from its on-campus testing program at its main University Park campus during the week of Sept. 18-24, including 418 positive tests from its on-demand testing program and 19 from its random testing program. The University Park campus reported a total of 2,123 positive cases among students through Sept. 24 and estimated that 819 of those cases are currently active while 1,304 are not.


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