Officials urge students to ‘stay safe’ over fall break as state labels county ‘high risk’

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After countless hours in front of computer screens and infinite Microsoft Teams meetings, fall break begins Thursday. But amid the excitement of fall-centric activities is the looming reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A reality that prompted a university-wide email earlier this week. In the email, President Astrid Tuminez urged students to maintain local health and safety guidelines and reminded them to “stay safe to stay open,” even while on break. 

This of course comes after Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced the change to Utah’s COVID-19 restrictions. In this announcement, Utah County was declared, among others, to be a “high risk” area. Herbert noted recent surges in cases to be “red flag warnings,” and urged caution for residents moving forward. 

Robin Ebmeyer, director of Emergency Management and Safety at UVU, echoed a similar message, emphasizing the importance of students “being smart” when it comes to their fall break endeavors. 

“Our main goal is to stay open,” Ebmeyer said. “To do that we need students to be smart both on and off-campus.” 

Such reminders come after an official letter from UVU president Tuminez and BYU president Kevin J. Worthen was released in September in response to the initial spike in Utah County cases. 

Even as UVU cases have begun to ease — dropping from 37 positive cases on Sept. 11, when the original letter was released, to 21 positive cases since Oct. 9 — students are continually warned that happenings off-campus are impacting what can be offered on campus. 

According to Ebmeyer, self-reporting allows the university to track cases more closely and help infected students to avoid spreading the virus further. The self-reporting process also connects students with trained professionals who can walk them through the process of dealing with the virus. 

“Self-reporting is good for a lot of reasons and I cannot stress the importance of students doing it,” she said.

Students can access additional information on self-reporting, as well as fill out a self-report at the UVU return to campus website. Students can also watch the broadcast on this topic on all UVU Review social media platforms.