The number of COVID-19 cases across college campuses has increased since the start of classes last week.
The University of Connecticut has seen cases jump at all of its locations. This includes its Hartford campus, as of Sunday UConn reported 50 positive or suspected cases on-campus and 37 off-campus commuter cases.
The largest cluster is at the university’s main Storrs campus, where 50 students are currently in isolation. UConn also asked the 300 students living in the Garrigus Suites residence hall to quarantine after an outbreak in the dorm in August.
Since move-in day, UConn has reported more than 99 positive cases in total, both students and faculty, according to its latest data. The university has moved all programs online until Sept. 20, but has no plans to shift to online-only classes.
Central Connecticut State University President Dr. Zulma Toro said CCSU confirmed many of its positive cases on that campus were directly linked to two off-campus parties and told students that the school would be cracking down on these gatherings with an iron fist.
“Though this is not unexpected during the first week of testing, it is extremely disappointing how some of these students became infected,” Toro wrote in an Aug. 31 statement to the CCSU community. “Failure to … limit indoor gatherings to 25 people (50 outdoors), may result in suspension or expulsion from the University – whether you are the host of a gathering or are attending one.”
As of Friday, CCSU has seven residential individuals in quarantine and four in isolation. The university has also reported 18 commuter student cases since Aug. 28.
At the University of Hartford, where some students previously expressed concerns about spikes because of parties, has reported only one positive since Aug. 21.
According to UHart’s Student Conduct Guidelines, the college promises to squash parties and to enforce COVID-19 safety measures by reminding students that their housing and enrollment status is at risk if they break the rules.
Trinity College in Hartford, where classes begin next week, has also reported just one positive case as of Sept. 1.
West Hartford’s University of Saint Joseph has one positive case as of Aug. 31 as well, but will still permit residential students to leave campus without restriction and to return home for the weekend. Additionally, students who travel to a location on the Connecticut Travel Advisory List will have to complete a state travel form and quarantine upon their arrival back.
During an interview with NBC’s “Today” Show last Thursday, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said the “worst thing” colleges with positive cases can do is send students home.
“When you send them home, particularly when you’re dealing with a university where people come from multiple different locations, you could be seeding the different places with infection,” Fauci told NBC.
The White House coronavirus task force also warned governors on a call last week that campuses could become hotspots and sources of outbreaks if infected students are not properly quarantined.
In a new emergency declaration signed last Tuesday that extends his emergency powers to Feb. 9, Gov. Ned Lamont said that he would now have more oversight when it came to the safe functioning of higher education.
“Among many other things, I will be required to manage the reopening and continued operation of schools, colleges and universities as well as the potential health and other risks that may arise out of the coming general election in November,” Lamont wrote.
Additionally, during a press conference during the first day of classes, Lamont and other officials implored college students to follow the rules to keep themselves and the community outside their campuses safe.