Reported COVID-19 cases rise, but remain lower than other schools

Illustration by: Ysabel Berger

Coronavirus cases are rising on campuses statewide – and UVU is no exception.

In the week ending Sept. 7, self-reported cases rose to 96 for the semester, a 39 percent increase from the previous week.

However, UVU has avoided the outbreaks and incidents seen at other state schools like Brigham Young University. The nearby school has a similar number of full-time students, but reports 258 positive cases so far. Likewise, on Aug. 29, Utah State University made national headlines by quarantining 287 students after finding COVID-19 in wastewater.

Robin Ebmeyer, UVU director of emergency management and safety, cited a lack of on-campus housing as the biggest factor in limiting cases. 

“As a commuter school, our students are living out in the community but not in UVU housing,” she said. “That said, our students co-mingle with many BYU students in apartments so there is crossover. We are definitely affected by BYU exposures.”

BYU students have been criticized after photographs of large gatherings of students without face coverings surfaced online. Provo City, home to BYU, also experienced controversy after Mayor Michelle Kaufusi vetoed her city council’s mask mandate – which they subsequently overrode. The mandate remains in effect, but BYU’s confirmed cases continue to rise at a higher rate.

Ebmeyer previously told The Review about extensive planning for a socially distanced fall semester and admitted that further adjustments would likely be necessary. Three weeks in, she described the adjustments as minimal.

“We have had to visit some classrooms where the spacing wasn’t quite what we wanted, so we adjusted,” she said. “We have made some cleaning supply adjustments. Certainly some technology tweaks have been necessary, but not really anything big, yet.”

As for whether UVU will explore moving classes completely online as they did in spring, Ebmeyer said a group is monitoring the situation daily but have processes in place for different tiers of quarantine.

“We have trigger points and criteria that will begin a conversation about a classroom or a building … if we can manage by quarantining just one classroom as needed instead of the entire campus,” she said.

She also encouraged students to be “acutely aware” of their activities off campus and avoid gatherings where people aren’t wearing masks.

For updates on UVU’s case count, which is updated every Tuesday, visit UVU.edu/returntocampus.

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