COVID-19 Roundup: Campus Returns and a Custodian's Death

Massachusetts Institute of Technology announces a reopening plan in which seniors will be on campus. University of Texas at Austin announces the death of a custodian. Positive tests delay Louisville basketball workouts.

July 8, 2020
 

The latest news about the coronavirus's impact on college and university campuses includes more campus plans for the fall and the death of a custodian at one major university.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced Tuesday that it will welcome some students to campus in the fall, but only seniors and those who need to live on campus because of visa conditions, safety or other reasons.

"As a matter of equity, we believe it is important, in this academic year, to enable every student to spend at least one term on campus. Our current hope is to offer every first-year, sophomore and junior the opportunity to be on campus for the spring semester," said a letter from MIT president L. Rafael Reif. "To help make that possible, we will spend the fall term studying how to make campus residential life work best in the shadow of the virus and will closely track medical and policy advances that could help protect against it and control its spread. What’s more, with new housing coming online by the start of the spring term, we also expect to have more beds available."

"Yet however sound and careful our process, I know these decisions come with a real human cost. They will require all of us, especially our students, to adjust to a new set of hard realities -- coming on top of a long season of COVID-driven disruption and dislocation. I wish we could offer you an easier answer, but COVID-19 is simply not yet under control," Reif said.

Only students who are on campus will be able to take classes in person.

Brown University on Tuesday announced plans for a three-term academic model that includes on-campus and remote instruction. Undergraduates will be on campus for two of the three terms, Brown said, and will live in single rooms. Classrooms, libraries and other campus spaces will be "de-densified." All students will be able to take courses remotely, even if they are on campus. "Our plan is based upon the forthright acknowledgement that any college, university or community will likely see diagnosed cases of COVID-19 until the point that a vaccine is widely available, just as is the case in the general population," Christina H. Paxson, Brown's president, said in a statement.

Brown, like its other Ivy League peers, said it would await saying more about athletics until the Ivy League makes a planned announcement today. Reports are widespread that the league will push fall sports back to the spring.

At the University of Texas at Austin, officials announced the death of a custodian because of the coronavirus, The Austin American-Statesman reported. "This loss is absolutely devastating to me, as I know it is to so many members of our campus community," wrote Interim President Jay Hartzell in an email to campus. The university is not releasing the name of the custodian, but it said that the illness was reported last month.

And as football programs see positive COVID-19 cases mount, the coronavirus has now touched college basketball. The University of Louisville suspended all men's basketball-related activities for two weeks after "two members of the program" tested positive for the disease caused by the virus, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. The basketball team had begun voluntary workouts, joining the football and women's basketball programs there in returning to the campus.

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