By Derek Lopez
The first two weeks have passed in the fall 2020 semester, and things already look to be trending in the wrong direction for KU as the Office of University Relations reported 30 new cases of COVID-19 in the student population on Sept. 4.
According to an email sent by University Relations, 17 new positive cases of COVID-19 were reported among students living on campus, and 13 new cases were reported among students living off campus.
The first week of the semester ended with only one student testing positive for COVID-19. This seemed to be a positive sign as students tried to have a normal semester while dealing with restrictions such as social distancing and wearing masks while on campus.
The second week, however, took a drastic turn for the worse. As of Sept. 4., 27 students living on campus, 29 students living off campus and 1 employee had tested positive so far for COVID-19, an alarming trend for the university.
Many students have expressed concerns, stating that online classes should have been the only way instruction should have taken place for fall 2020 because of the pandemic.
“I feel that all classes should have been online to begin with to avoid any of this happening,” said Nicole Wolf, a KU senior.
KU is not the only campus dealing with worrying trends in the number of positive COVID-19 cases. Other colleges and universities have also had to make tough decisions.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Gettysburg College has asked most of their students to return home after 25 students tested positive in one day. They also reported that Penn State University is considering switching their instruction entirely online after a spike in COVID-19 cases at their network of campuses.
KU president Kenneth Hawkins released a message on Friday urging students to participate in healthy behaviours over the holiday weekend. He thanked students and faculty in their efforts to keep the university operating “in its current format,” and ended the message by saying, “Our primary focus should be on engaging in behaviour that helps us to successfully complete our educational mission.”
No decisions have been made to change instruction methods or to send students living on campus home at this time.
The state of KU’s fall 2020 semester may be in limbo with the recent outbreak of COVID-19 cases. If the trend continues, the administration may need to consider closing the campus to students and moving instruction entirely online, as other colleges and universities have done.