US Colleges Struggle to Balance COVID-19 With Classes

Colleges and universities are seeing an increase of cases of COVID-19 as students return to campus, with some seeing rapid increases while others are keeping a lid on the spread of disease.Four sources are compiling information about colleges and COVID-19, including case-tracking maps: FILE – A woman wears a mask as she walks on campus at San Diego State University, Sept. 2, 2020, in San Diego.Most U.S. colleges and universities are not conducting widespread coronavirus tests despite the rise of cases on campuses, according to an FILE – College students wear masks out of concern for the coronavirus on the Boston College campus, Sept. 17, 2020, in Boston.Sherry Pagoto, a clinical psychologist at the University of Connecticut, surveyed college students about returning to campus in July, and found that the students that responded to their survey agreed that FILE – A graduate assistant sits in an empty auditorium during an online lecture on the first day of classes, Aug. 17, 2020, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.Other large universities have had a relatively small number of coronavirus cases.California State University-Fullerton (CSUF) has had three cases among its 35,169 undergraduate students.CSUF laid out a six-step plan for readmitting students to campus and ensuring the safety of faculty and students. The plan is now in its third phase, according to its coronavirus website.“For those who will be on campus in the fall, it will be each person’s responsibility to adhere to all safety protocols to reduce the risk of infection among our campus community members and their families. This includes using face masks, practicing good hygiene and maintaining social distance,” it wrote.If anyone is exposed or comes in contact with someone exposed, this person “must remain off campus, self-quarantine, and follow all applicable public health orders,” it continued.Crucial practicesThe University of Wisconsin-Superior has had only one case of coronavirus out of its 2,259 undergraduate students and, according to Jordan Milan, director of strategic communications and special assistant to the chancellor, this case was not linked to the 54% of classes that are on campus.“We recognize that the success of this model is dependent on our on-campus community engaging in social distancing, wearing a mask and keeping hands sanitized. We have reminders of these practices posted throughout campus,” she wrote in an email to VOA.In addition to signs about social distancing and wearing masks on campus, there are three different flow charts of procedures that students should follow if they contract coronavirus living on campus, off campus or in a distance-learning environment.As Milan mentioned, the spread of coronavirus on campuses depends on student behavior and whether they obey social distancing guidelines and other policies laid out by their universities.Appelbaum noted that if he saw students disobeying rules UGA laid out, he would ask people to put their masks on and observe social distancing. “I just want to be as safe as I can be in a bad situation,” he said.

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