A few college campuses in the U.S. are relatively COVID-19 free thanks to stringent enforcement of rigid protocols of testing, wearing masks, and social distancing. Among them are Quinnipiac University in Connecticut and Clark University in Central Massachusetts, that had its first possible case in more than a month.
According to Politico, the successful efforts of these institutions along with other pricey colleges across the country, come with a multimillion dollar cost to cover weekly COVID-19 tests for students and staff and other management strategies to keep the virus at bay.
“It shows that we may not need to have a vaccine to do things like have students in classes,” said Tara Kirk Sell, Ph.D., a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. She acknowledged that certain colleges have the advantage of being situated in areas of the country where the virus is less severe, according to Politico.
Other institutions have not been as successful. Many, like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have shut down and rely on virtual learning. One of the key strategies for containing the virus is testing. According to Politico, over 100 Northeastern schools use the Board Institute, a Cambridge, Massachusetts company, to test their students regularly and produce results within 24 hours.
At Clark University, students are mandated to enter a testing facility every 3 days and have their noses swabbed as part of their $11 million COVID-19 protection plan. Students who do not comply, are asked to leave and their tuition is forfeited. The money to pay for these virus-busting measures comes from sacrificing competitive athletics and musical programs.
“We absolutely could not pull this off without rigorous testing,” David Fithian, president of Clark University said, according to Politico. “Critics can find plenty of evidence that reopening was not the right decision, and I would say that’s probably true for certain campuses. I think what our case shows is that you can actually manage it successfully.”
Other campuses have not been nearly as successful in containing the virus, according to an early report from Davidson College and other schools, that found a daily increase of 3,000 in daily cases across the country for those returning to in-person classes.
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