Spike in COVID-19 cases calls for brief online class period

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Courtesy of The Charger Bulletin

The new UNH logo that can be found in front of Maxcy Hall

Beth Beaudry, Student Life Editor

As of Oct. 12, the University of New Haven has 113 active COVID-19 cases on campus. Within the past week, the number of cases rose from 12 to 24, 50, 77, 93, and now 113. This resulted in over 400 students being quarantined on campus, including the entirety of Winchester residence hall.

In response to the rapid rise of cases, university president Steven Kaplan sent an email on Oct. 12 announcing that classes will move online from Oct. 13 to Oct. 17.

“Our brief transition to online learning will begin with classes on Tuesday and will continue through the remainder of the week, at which time we will reassess our status,” said Kaplan.

Kaplan also announced that the COVID-19 dashboard has been updated with a color system to signal alert levels. Green indicates low risk, orange is for moderate risk and red is for high risk. The university is currently in orange status.

Along with classes moving online, Kaplan declared that Wednesday is e a “re-charge day,” meaning all classes are canceled. Kaplan said the idea was presented to him by the Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA) and that there are plans of a second “re-charge day” in early November.

Kaplan said the university spent months preparing for a possible outbreak and that he is confident their plan of action will prevent another spike in cases.

He said, “[the current protocols] will quickly and effectively mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on our campus, and enable us to resume on-campus activities in the near future.”

Shortly after Kaplan’s email, the university’s COVID task force released an email detailing protocols for the week.

Changes from Oct. 12 through Oct. 17 include the restriction of commuter students from campus and the suspension of university-sponsored transportation. Dining halls will offer only take-out options, but additional food trucks will be on campus. Although students can still use the Beckerman Recreation Center by appointment, classes and ChargerREC activities are canceled until further notice.

Because of the rise in cases, there will also be an increase in COVID-19 testing among students.

“Any residential students who have been tested since Oct. 5 will not be required to get a COVID-19 test this week. All other residential students will be invited to test this week,” said the email.

On Monday, the COVID task force and university senior leaders held a virtual town hall forum with more than 800 attendees.

Summer McGee, the dean of the School of Health Sciences and university COVID-19 coordinator, told attendees that the university will monitor the cases throughout the online period to decide if additional residence halls need to be quarantined.

“The spread we have seen has nothing to do with our operations on campus,” said McGee. “We have traced all of these cases to social gatherings off-campus where students aren’t wearing masks.”

“The campus is not in a full lockdown or quarantine,” she said. “The campus is still operating. We just want to make sure that students are doing so and continuing those operations in a safe manner.”

McGee said there is no predetermined number of cases to make the campus go from orange to red alert, or for the school to move fully online for the remainder of the semester. She said that it is not safe to send students home, for fear they will expose their home communities to the virus. Instead, she said students should be tested and isolated if need be.

As of this writing, the university plans to keep students on campus until Nov. 24.