University of Dayton One Alert Level Away From Vacating Campus Amid 700+ COVID-19 Cases

700+ COVID-19 Cases Brings University of Dayton to the Brink of Vacating CampusUniversity of Dayton Has Become Ohio's Worst Hit Campus of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Sep 2, 2020 at 10:19 am
University of Dayton - Photo: Cfullam/CC 3.0
Photo: Cfullam/CC 3.0
University of Dayton

The University of Dayton’s fall semester started Aug. 24, and, one week and about 600 confirmed COVID-19 cases later, the school’s campus is on alert-level “RED” — one level away from "PURPLE" and an order to vacate in response to a dangerous outbreak.

The school isn’t at that point yet, but the spike is undeniable. As of Aug. 31, the school had 771 active cases, which includes 354 positive student tests reported over the weekend. According to the school’s COVID dashboard, there have been 905 positive student tests since Aug. 10,

The spike followed an Aug. 20 alert that noted “several small clusters” of COVID-19 among students, but the recent increase in active cases is no longer in cluster territory.

In response, the school announced Thursday that classes will be conducted remotely until at least Sept. 14; a statement noted that the time is required “for UD contact tracers to gather data and for University leaders to assess the results to determine the full extent of spread in the campus community.”

So far, the university’s outbreak has gone well beyond the impact seen in other Ohio colleges: Ohio State University, with an enrollment of 44,000 students, reported 495 cases as of Aug. 29. The University of Cincinnati, which also has more than 40,000 students, reports 78 cases. Over the weekend, Miami University reported its own surge, nearly doubling the number of its student cases to 527.

At UD, the number of active coronavirus cases make up 9% of the undergraduate enrollment of 8,000.

The school has announced additional restrictions on student movement around campus and expanded its testing resources. Dining options are limited to grab-and-go, and all visitors (even other students) are banned in student residents. There is also a warning that students shouldn't leave campus and enter the larger Dayton community "unless for an approved educational reason, outside employment, or essentials like groceries or medications."

In a video update released with the announcement that the campus alert level had been escalated to RED, University President Eric F. Spina said that maintaining safety standards “is the key to our future on campus.”

"We are not yet where we need to be,” he added.  

That much became clear amid the surge in cases days later. In his remarks, Spina touched on concerns “about whether we would be sending students home starting next week,” and said that the school was not yet at that point.

For now, students will remain on campus, taking virtual classes, as contract tracers work to evaluate the outbreak.

“This is the only way to stem the spread of the virus and gives,” Spina said in the update, and encouraged students to follow health guidelines. “It’s the best chance to remain on campus this semester.”