On August 17th students, staff and faculty at the University of Colorado returned to school. The university had laid down some general COVID precautions, limiting class sizes, requiring COVID testing before student move-in, and requiring masks both indoors and out. They were a “COVID-19 ready campus,” they declared.
However, many in the Boulder community (and among the CU staff and faculty) were adamantly and vocally against the move. Not only would the fall semester bring thousands of students from out of state, into town, but it would also initiate party season on The Hill. Many warned that there would be no realistic way of stopping a serious COVID outbreak if the students returned.
Now, just over a month later, after an explosion of cases in the last two weeks, the school is closing its campus and the students are under quarantine orders.
On Monday September 23rd, Chancellor Philip DiStephano sent out an email announcing that campus would be closing to all in-person classes and requiring students to self-quarantine for a minimum of two-weeks. No classes, no parties, no more blunt seshes with your homies or hooking up with strangers — it’s lockdown time. Again.
“The risks to our broader community are too great, and COVID-19 spreads too easily, for any further noncompliance with public health measures to go without immediate consequences.” Wrote DiStephano in an email to the students. “To the members of our campus community who haven’t been abiding by public health guidelines, let me be clear one more time: It is your responsibility to follow these protocols as someone who lives in the Boulder community and is part of this university.”
Anyone caught breaking this quarantine order will face an automatic 10-day suspension. Which, DiStephano warned, “More than a dozen students already received over the weekend.”
Recently there’s been an incredible spike in COVID cases among CU students, largely because of student disregard for public health recommendations. Just between September 1st and 18th, there were 751 positive COVID tests recorded on Campus.
To put that into perspective: That’s over 20% percent of all of Boulder County’s COVID diagnosis’ since March.
Not only that, but the on-campus isolation units, where the university has been housing their COVID positive students, is fast approaching full capacity. As of Friday the 18th, these units were at 68% capacity and filling up extremely fast.
It’s a situation that’s being fueled by the spirit of CU’s party animals. These Buffs still want the wild college experience enjoyed by their predecessors — COVID be damned! Besides, they can't really go rage at the bars, anyway. House parties are the only realistic place to party these days; they’re the only way to drink past 10 PM, the only way to meet strangers without masks on, the only way to actually play drinking games and socialize like people used to.
Now, however, any students caught hosting or attending large gatherings or breaking isolation guidelines in any way will immediately be suspended. The gloves are off. CU's got two weeks now, to try and flatten their COVID curve or the university will be forced to extend the campus shut down and student quarantine orders through October.
CU’s progress on that front can be monitored on their COVID-19 dashboard page where all of the outbreak stats and data is tracked and reported.