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Spike of cases of Covid-19 in reopened US colleges – institutional responses

While numbers appear to show a drop of COVID-19 cases in the US, the reopening of universities and colleges remains an issue.

Indeed, as some universities have started to reopen, cases have spiked brutally:  The University of Notre-Dame reported 58 new cases at the beginning of August and as many as 304 just a few days later. The University of North Carolina had 130 students testing positive for the virus and decided to backtrack its reopening by switching back to online courses. Cases of infection also spiked in several colleges and universities in Kentucky, North Carolina, Alabama, Arizona, Massachusetts, Mississippi and elsewhere. The surge of cases is believed to be largely due to a significant number of parties organised by students in violation of their school’s student code.

The reopening of universities has also caused other issues as the New York University (NYU) case shows. As students coming from out of state are being quarantined, complains have followed because of the apparent lack of organisation and planning by universities on simple things such as meals.

Despite paying an average of USD 70 000 for tuition, room and board, students have received packages of food such as chips and an apple for dinner, or three meals arriving only at the end of the evening etc. At the University of Georgia, students are allowed to go to cafeterias, following a customary mandatory meal plan, but places are crowded with lines making risks of infection higher for students.

The decision to jump back to in-person teaching may thus not be quite as easy as may have expected the US administration.