Unsigned: Crowded Colleges Lead to Spike in Coronavirus Cases Around the Nation

   In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, many colleges and universities are choosing to hold classes virtually with faculty and student safety in mind. Some schools that had initial plans to open are now back-tracking, rescinding statements that they would hold in-person classes. Yet, some schools have braved the pandemic and opened their doors to students living on campus and attending class, often to disastrous results.

   As soon as colleges opened for study this fall, COVID-19 cases began stacking up. The New York Times reported that since the start-of-term at University of Iowa, the surrounding college town has become a COVID-19 hotspot; one of around 100 college towns across the United States who have reported similar predicaments (nytimes.com). The relationship between the concentration of students and infections is undeniable. Many young adults aren’t taking the pandemic seriously, choosing to party and go out with friends instead of following pandemic safety protocol. “Within days [of arriving at the university], students were complaining that they couldn’t get coronavirus tests or were bumping into people who were supposed to be in isolation. Undergraduates were jamming sidewalks and downtown bars, masks hanging below their chins, never mind the city’s mask mandate” (nytimes.com).

   As a result of students’ inability to add precautions to their everyday lives, college communities everywhere are suffering, and San Diego is no exception. San Diego State University (SDSU) students were allowed to return to campus this year; however, students were quickly confined to their dorms as COVID-19 cases began cropping up. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, “students…have been ignoring rules that require them to wear masks and to practice social distancing.” SDSU Daily Aztec Editor-in-Chief Brenden Tuccinardi stated, “[Last] weekend and the weekend before made it very clear university administrators placed too much faith in students’ ability to follow the rules” (sandiegouniontribune.com).

   According to NBC San Diego, case increases connected to SDSU are scaring small business owners, many of whom have finally been able to reopen and start to see a recovery in business after the initial shutdown. However, rises in cases at colleges are pushing San Diego back towards more restrictions, which in turn could force many small businesses to close their doors for good (nbcsandiego.com). This is terrible, because small businesses are essential to not only San Diego’s economy, but also to its cultural richness. The actions of irresponsible college students shouldn’t be able to have this devastating of an effect on our city.

  “As a student myself, I realize the difficulty in having classes online for such an extended period of time. However, by reopening schools, students and faculty have a higher chance of contracting or spreading COVID-19 even unknowingly due to the rise of asymptomatic cases. It’s a huge problem that educational institutions have not found a solution in preventing the spread especially when controlling the actions of their students who refuse to remain six feet apart,” said Senior Francesca Kading.

   Certainly, there is more to the college experience than online classes. However, we all have a responsibility to support each other and keep each other safe, college students included.  Colleges opening took a gamble that risked the livelihoods of entire communities. If they can’t be trusted to take the necessary precautions to keep our communities safe and are unable to police the actions of their students, it’s clear they should remain online for the time being. In the meantime, everyone should wear a facial covering, avoid large gatherings, and stay six feet apart to help keep San Diego healthy.