One of the few departments on campus that has been permitted to have face-to-face classes during the COVID-19 pandemic is now at risk of halting in-person classes.
In an email sent to the students, faculty and staff of the School of the Arts on Tues. Sept. 15, SOA Dean Stephen Pullen announced that 11 cases of the virus had been traced back to the Noorda Center. Of those cases, eight have been traced back to the dance department specifically.
According to UVU COVID-19 protocol, the building will have to be shut down “for a minimum of two weeks” if the number of cases traced back to the Noorda reaches 15.
Pullen recognized that, while extensive and often “onerous”, the safety measures in place at the Noorda have allowed for studios and practice rooms to remain open. He, along with Robin Ebmeyer and Sue Jackson of UVU’s COVID-19 management team, feel that the cause for new cases lies off-campus.
“It is felt that transmission of the virus is probably not happening during class time and in class spaces, but rather, is likely happening in moments of unsafe congregation before and after classes AND off-campus,” said Pullen via email. “There have been many reports of off-campus parties, gatherings, rehearsals and congregating without following safety protocols.”
UVU has reported a total of 198 at the school as of Sept. 14. This number includes both student and faculty cases.
Large off-campus parties continue to be cited by Utah universities and the Utah Department of Health as a contributing factor of the spike in cases in Utah County, especially among the 15-25 year-old population.
Pullen appealed to students to “strictly adhere” to safety guidelines, and warned that classes, rehearsals, recording sessions and even performances would be put on hold in the event of a building shutdown.
“There are a number of upcoming performances scheduled in The Noorda Center that might have to be canceled or rescheduled if we hit that critical number – this would be truly disappointing for those who have worked so hard to prepare for these performances,” said Pullen. “I urge [students] to exercise an abundance of caution wherever you are, whether on campus or off, so that we can continue to rehearse, practice, hold classes and perform in the Noorda Center.”
More information about UVU’s COVID-19 protocol can be found on the “Return to Campus” webpage.
Olivia is a theater education major who stumbled into journalism. She’s a little too into movies, pop culture, and Oxford commas (against the desires of her editors). She is also very online. ([email protected])