COVID-19 Roundup: Outbreaks and iPads

Two colleges report outbreaks and a third reports its president hospitalized. Duke adjusts plans. Washington State U will go online while Cornell limits student move-in to two suitcases and a backpack. Bowdoin will issue iPads.

July 27, 2020
 

Though the fall term is still yet to begin, two institutions have reported outbreaks of the coronavirus among their students or staff, and another has reported its president infected. All three currently plan to begin in-person classes this fall. Duke University has adjusted its plans. Other updates include an online semester at Washington State University, free iPads at Bowdoin College and limits on student baggage at Cornell University. Last week, 18 states set new records for their daily coronavirus caseloads. Over 73,000 cases and 1,100 deaths were reported nationally on Friday alone.


Harris-Stowe State University, a historically Black public college in St. Louis, has shut down its campus after eight administrative employees tested positive for COVID-19 last week. The university will do a deep clean on all buildings before reopening the space on Aug. 10. In-person and online classes are to begin Aug. 24.

Similarly, eight people who were part of Bradley University's summer student orientation tested positive for the virus last week, though the university has not said if the cases were among staff or students. The Illinois university announced in May that it would resume in-person instruction for the fall term and bring students back to residence halls.

Leocadia Zak, president of Agnes Scott College in Georgia, has been admitted to a hospital for treatment of COVID-19, according to a release by the chair of the Board of Trustees. "She is receiving exceptional care and at this point resting comfortably," the board's chair wrote in the message. In June, the university announced it was planning to bring some students back to campus with classes both online and in person, but last Monday Zak said that decision was being reconsidered in light of surging cases in the state.

"Until a few days ago, I remained hopeful that we could return to campus for the fall, even if that meant having fewer students live on campus to achieve more realistic physical distancing," she said in a letter to campus. "However, as COVID-19 infections continue to spike here in Georgia and in other states where our students live, we are uncertain about our ability to follow through with these plans."

The administration will be monitoring the public health situation and announcing any decisions early this week, Zak said.


Duke University announced a change in its response to COVID-19. "We have made the very difficult decision to decrease the on-campus residential population by about 30 percent to ensure that we can provide care, support, and a safe and healthy environment for our students, faculty, and staff. To achieve the necessary reduced density, Duke campus housing for the Fall 2020 semester will now be limited to first-year students, sophomores, and those students who have specific needs for campus housing because of their personal or academic situations," said a message from Vincent E. Price, the president.

"This change in plans is deeply disappointing for all of us. The connections we make and the ideas we create when we are together in classrooms, commons rooms, and across campus are what make Duke such an extraordinary place, and it will be difficult to have those experiences so significantly curtailed and constrained this fall," he added.


Rutgers University stopped all in-person football team activities and quarantined the entire football program after six additional positive tests for COVID-19 were announced Saturday, ESPN reported.

The football program has had 10 total positive tests since returning to campus June 15.


Washington State University is one of the latest institutions to announce its undergraduate fall semester will be fully remote, with limited exceptions, at all five campuses. Students may be able to live on campus if they have demonstrated financial need, cannot learn safely at home or meet other requirements.


Cornell University, which is planning to bring all students back to campus, has said it will be limiting the number of items undergraduate students can bring to move in to residence halls. Students will be limited to the equivalent of two large suitcases and a backpack, and no parents or guests will be permitted to help with student move-in. Students living on campus will be tested upon arrival and given boxed meals and a quarantine location, such as a local hotel, to stay in until results come back and they are permitted to move into residences. Students arriving from several other states may be required by New York State law to self-quarantine for 14 days upon entry.


Bowdoin College in Maine, which is planning to bring 40 percent of students to campus, will issue iPad Pro tablets to every student in the coming weeks. The tablets will come with a keyboard, track pad and Apple Pencil. The university will cover cellular data connectivity for students who will be studying at home (nearly all sophomores, juniors and seniors) and lack reliable internet. Students will be encouraged to return the devices upon graduation but will be able to keep them for $1 if they express need.

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