While coronavirus clusters have shut down in-person learning at big-name universities, like Notre Dame and UNC Chapel Hill, there is a unique partnership being implemented in Connecticut with a goal of keeping campuses in the state from having that same fate.
On college campuses across Connecticut and across the country, the start to the fall semester has been anything but normal.
Over the weekend, Western Connecticut State University in Danbury announced that no additional students will be allowed to come to campus for at least two weeks because of a recent spike in coronavirus cases in that city.
Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you
Last week, the University of Connecticut removed several students from on-campus housing after a video surfaced on social media. UConn said the video showed students holding an unapproved gathering in a dormitory.
“Congregant living, being in a dorm creates all kinds of challenges,” said Eric Smullen, Vice President of Operations for the Community Network at Hartford HealthCare.
Smullen is part of a team behind the Campus Care program, which is partnering with several colleges around the state amid the pandemic.
“Congregant living, being in a dorm creates all kinds of challenges,” said Eric Smullen, Vice President of Operations for the Community Network at Hartford HealthCare. Smullen is part of a team behind the Campus Care program, which is partnering with several colleges around the state amid the pandemic.
Download the free NBC Connecticut App for the latest on the coronavirus pandemic, including live news conferences, a town by town breakdown of the latest cases in our state and push alerts with breaking news updates
Among the schools signing on with the program are the University of Hartford, Trinity College in Hartford and Connecticut College in New London. All three of those schools said they would be testing students and employees for COVID-19 before classes begin and throughout the semester.
“We are proud to have formed this partnership with Hartford HealthCare, already well known in Connecticut for their innovative approach to student health and now a leader in pandemic support,” said Katherine Bergeron, President of Connecticut College. “Our shared vision for excellence in campus health, safety, and wellbeing is ushering in a new era at the College, allowing our students to benefit from the most comprehensive healthcare network in the region,” she wrote in a statement.
The Campus Care program partners infectious disease specialists and other medical experts with campus leadership to map out plans for all safety protocols, testing, contact tracing and any other virus-related issues.
Smullen said that almost every aspect of campus life has had to be reevaluated.
“How people get meals and where they eat meals,” Smullen said. “Make sure that there’s safe practices in communal areas, like the bathrooms.”
The medical experts behind the Campus Care planning said anyone returning to a college campus this fall must be flexible.
“As things crop up, you’re going to need to make changes in where people live,” said Smullen. “The students may have to relocate their dorms. You may have to change processes on the fly.”
Doctors and school officials are making clear that if students fail to follow the guidelines, the risks increase. All of this has now become part of the college experience in 2020.