Sacred Heart University

‘We Need to Turn the Tide:' Sacred Heart Students Warned To Take COVID-19 Seriously

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The president of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield recently delivered a tough message to students: get serious about the coronavirus quickly or face the possibility of switching to virtual learning.

“We, as the university, are at a critical point in our fight against the virus,” said Dr. John Petillo, Sacred Heart University's president.

The warning comes amid a rising number of coronavirus cases among students.

“Do you still want to be on campus going to class, participating in clubs or extracurricular activities and having team workouts? Or do you want to be at home with online learning?” said Petillo.

In an online video, the president called for students to change their behavior.

On Sacred Heart’s COVID-19 dashboard, the school reported 19 new positive cases on Tuesday and more than 100 cases in the last week, mostly driven by those who live off campus.

“We all had to make our Pioneer Promise which was our way of facilitating everybody to try and be safe and follow all the guidelines so we could actually go back to school and kind of have a college experience,” said Olivia Chaponis, Class of 2022 president.

Student government is also pushing for classmates to do their part.

The school says while most students have followed the rules, some have not, including by not wearing masks, not following social distancing and gathering with too many people.

“It’s really not a lot to ask and it’s not just for your safety it’s for everybody else around you, the rest of your new friends, the faculty and everyone in our community,” said Chaponis.

So far 80 students have been suspended.

Now the school’s president is asking for students to wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart when hanging out with anyone besides their roommates.

“I know these requests may seem unreasonably harsh. But again we are a real point of decision about the future of the semester on the ground. We need to turn the tide and get the spread of the virus under control,” said Petillo.

On Wednesday, a cautionary quarantine of a dorm will be lifted. Also the school is ramping up testing, with plans to test about a quarter of all residential students this week.

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