Students react to Quinnipiac’s surge in COVID-19 cases

Emily Flamme and Melina Khan

Quinnipiac University has had 21 total confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 this semster, causing some students to be concerned about their health and safety.

“I am a little worried, mostly because there is a higher possibility of me bringing it home and not knowing and having other people on campus potentially having it but not being chosen for random testing,” said Leea Cotter, a first-year political science major, on Oct. 9.

The slight increase in cases has caused the university to shift the alert level from “green” to “yellow.” Under the “yellow alert level,” the university will increase how many non-residential students it tests. This is because most of the confirmed cases were off-campus students.

“The best plan for the spike in cases is to increase regular testing and make sure that the tests are getting an equal representation of the student body,” said Sheralyn Burke, a first-year health science major, on Oct. 9.

COVID-19 can spread quickly without following proper guidelines and restrictions. (Connor Lawless)

Dr. David Hill, professor of medical sciences and director of Global Public Health at Quinnipiac, said in an email, that students who are selected must attend or they will face consequences.

The first time a student misses their scheduled test, they will be put in the following week’s testing pool automatically. If a student misses two tests, and they live in a residence hall or a university-owned house, they will be removed from campus housing within 48 hours, according to an email from Tom Ellett, chief experience officer. Students who are sent home can return to campus after receiving a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test at their own expense.

“If we don’t have tests from a comprehensive sample of our community, we run the risk of uncontained contagion, very quickly,” Ellett said in the email. “That’s why we need 100% compliance from everyone who is contacted for testing — we cannot leave it up to chance.”

Burke said she feels the policies the university has in place are fair and that they should remain strict for the safety of the student body.

The school also has rigid policies regarding visitors and guests. Maximum occupancy of suites and dorm rooms is either 10 people or double the number of residents within the dorm or suite, depending on which number is fewer. All guests and residents must practice social distancing and proper mask-wearing. Outdoor gatherings have a maximum of 16 people, but all guests must wear masks and social distance.

If a student violates one of these policies, the first offense results in disciplinary probation and a second offense results in suspension for the rest of the semester.

“Although some people feel that they are harsh, it is important that they put the health of the students and staff before our ‘wants,’” Burke said. “As long as the school continues testing and holding all students to the same standards, they are doing their best to prevent this virus from taking control at our school.”

If cases continue to increase, the alert level will shift to “orange,” and there would be an increase of restrictions on campus. More classes would become fully remote to reduce the number of people meeting in person. Dining would become take-out only. Recreational spaces would close. Student and university-organized gatherings would pause until the rate of positive cases decreased.

If the university reaches a “red alert level,” all classes will meet remotely and students would not be allowed to leave campus. If the cases cannot be contained after two weeks, students would be sent home to finish the semester online.

Although cases have increased recently, Burke said she feels safe on campus knowing that the university has a plan if cases were to keep increasing.

“I feel that our school, compared to other schools, is doing very well at controlling the virus the best they can,” Burke said.