Only six days after the academic year started, the University of Alabama has reported more than 566 coronavirus cases on campus.
The numbers do not include the previously announced 310 students who tested positive before Aug. 19 when they returned at the Tuscaloosa campus.
University of Alabama President Stuart R. Bell urged all students and faculty members to practice social distancing, wear masks, and limit social gatherings. Bell highlighted that violators could be suspended from school.
In an email to all the college students, Bell wrote that the administration and university management's primary goal is to finish the fall semester together. ''The margin for error is shrinking,'' Bell noted.
Bell announced a 14-day moratorium on all in-person events outside of the classrooms. He also prohibited social gatherings both on and off-campus. The management also closed all the common areas of dormitories and fraternity and sorority houses. Visitors on campus are not allowed until further notice.
After Bell's message to students, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox order all bars in the city to remain close for two weeks to prevent a further rise in cases. In addition, there will be no bar service at restaurants for two weeks. Alcohol can only be served at tables.
Bell confirmed that both the university police and the Tuscaloosa police would monitor the situation to ensure that the students follow the coronavirus safety measures. Not only the University of Alabama had a rocky start of the academic year due to the virus.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Notre Dame have both suspended in-person classes days after the start of the new academic year. Each university recorded over 400 positive cases since mid-August.
The Ohio State University suspended over 200 students who violated the internal Covid-19 regulations around socializing. The school requires everyone to wear a maks, maintain social distancing, and limit the group gathering to 10 people.
Developmental psychologist Mary Karapetian Alvord commented that students have assumed that since their university reopened, it is safe to resume their normal college activities.
Prof. Hannah Schacter, who specializes in adolescent relationships, opines that college students often dismiss the coronavirus guidelines because of their desire to belong to a community. In her words, social connections are vital for teens and young adults, and the feeling of isolation is often worse for them than the potential exposure to the novel virus.
What do you think? Will the colleges in the US manage to finish the fall semester in person?