Utah Public Radio’s Kerry Bringhurst spoke with Utah State University President Noelle Cockett Monday about an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases on the USU campus. Cockett says wastewater analysis shows evidence of COVID-19 among students at the Living Learning Center (LLC) on the main Logan campus.
Through ongoing COVID-19 monitoring and case containment efforts, USU has identified a potential cluster of COVID-19 cases. The LLC includes six buildings and a total of 483 students. Cockett says there are currently 15 students who have tested positive for COVID-19 in this area. The Utah Department of Health will provide a mobile testing site on Wednesday.
USU is providing the following information to parents of students living in the LLC:
Why are you taking this action?
USU monitors for COVID-19 in on-campus housing through wastewater monitoring and looking at trends in positive cases. These have pointed to the need to take swift action to contain spread of COVID-19 in the LLC.
What does it mean to “restrict activities”?
This means to not attend class, stay home from work, and not socialize with those outside your household. This effort helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 while the case containment team works to identify those who have COVID-19. On Monday morning (the 21st), there were 15 known cases in the LLC community that includes six buildings and 483 residents.
How do I know if my student has to restrict their activities and get tested?
Students who were targeted for testing on Sept. 21 and 22 received an email Sunday evening from President Cockett telling them to restrict their activities and be tested for COVID-19. If your student did not receive an email, they were not identified as part of this group to receive targeted testing.
Can my student quarantine or self-isolate at our home?
A student may leave their USU Housing room to quarantine or self-isolate at home, but they should seriously consider those they may put at risk of getting COVID-19, either along the way home or in the home. We recommend students do not unnecessarily put family members at risk, and we have system in place to provide services to on-campus students.
What should I do if I want to bring my student home for the rest of the semester?
The USU Housing Office will offer refunds on housing and meal plans for those students who want to return to their permanent home. Students who have in-person classes should contact the USU Registrar, Fran Hopkin (email@example.com), to discuss options for classes. Students who have a condition that puts them at a higher risk for COVID-19 can reach out to the Disability Resource Center to facilitate academic accommodations.
Is USU testing all students living at the LLC?
Yes, USU has begun testing with those prioritized due to proximity to a person with a positive case or who have symptoms, and the Utah Department of Health will provide its mobile testing unit on Wednesday in order to test the remaining students living in the LLC community.
What if I don’t want my student tested?
Your student may choose to not be tested, and they will need to restrict all activities for 14 days.
How is USU helping my student with classes and meals?
USU offers meal delivery through Dining Services when students are told to restrict their activities, quarantine, or self-isolate. These meals are not deducted from a student’s meal plan. The COVID CARE Team provides academic accommodations and alerts professors when a student is asked not to come to class in order to contain cases of COVID-19. This team also provides needed services or referrals to students as they take action to protect our community.
Why aren’t you providing more information about where these cases are?
In keeping with efforts by health officials, we do not provide more specific information about cases in order to protect the privacy of those who test positive. We want to ensure there are no unnecessary barriers to getting tested and taking steps to protect the Aggie family from the spread of COVID-19.
Does this mean USU will shut down?
Being able to identify potential clusters of cases and stop the spread of COVID-19 is essential to keeping USU’s in-person learning opportunities going. This is an example of the system working as it should in order to contain cases and protect the health and safety of students and employees so we can continue our core mission of teaching, research and outreach.