University of Dayton reports 89 new COVID-19 cases

The University of Dayton reported 89 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the institution’s total number of active cases to 240.

Since Saturday, the university has reported a combined 213 new cases, with the numbers increasing each day. The jump in cases forced officials to shift all classes to online learning for the first week of the semester. Officials have not said if they will continue with online learning the second week of the semester.

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The institution has been working since the spring to put safety measures in place to prepare the campus for fall classes. They’ve taken additional steps since classes started Monday, and have been enforcing mask wearing and disciplining students who violate the safety protocols.

“In recent days, we are pleased with the positive signs of more student compliance with COVID-19 safety measures,” UD said in a statement released Wednesday. “We are evaluating the situation every day, and will inform our campus community of any changes.”

On Tuesday, the school launched its COVID-19 surveillance testing program, which calls for testing up to 1,000 students per week. It’s designed to identify individuals who may be carrying the virus but show no symptoms. The testing program is also aimed at assessing the spread of the virus within the campus community. It includes testing targeted at potential hot spots as well as random testing, the university said, noting that students will be notified directly if they are selected for testing.

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Students who opted for face-to-face learning are disappointed that that the university was forced to shift to remote learning, senior Bree Murray said. However, they realize the move is for everyone’s safety, said Murray, a Pittsburgh native. Given the rise in cases each of the past few days, Murray fears that the university will be forced to transition to remote learning the remainder of the semester.

“People are really upset (about not having in-person classes), I know that,” she said. “It’s good that (the university is) enforcing masks, they’re really getting on people because they’re trying to slow the spread. But everybody’s pretty upset, everybody I’ve talked to. It’s weird, very different vibe than usual here.”

The university’s reopening plan, released in June, calls for a combination of in-person and virtual classes this fall. However, according to the plan, instructors were to prepare lesson plans that would allow them to transition to online instructions if there’s an outbreak.

In preparation for students and staff returning to campus, the university planned to spend an estimated $15 million on personal protective equipment, technology, facilities, signage, testing and contact tracing, officials said in July. In addition, they received $5.2 million through the federal CARES Act to offset some pandemic expenses, and officials planned to direct those funds to emergency grants to students and to prepare the campus for full operations.

“We’re committed to doing it, it’s the right thing to do, but it does create some unplanned expenses that, luckily as a relatively wealthy institution, we’ll be able to weather through some of those things,” Andy Horner, executive vice president of business and administrative services, told the Dayton Daily News in July. “But like everybody else, we can’t predict the future. And so a lot of what we’re doing is pretty conservative to ensure that we’re able to preserve our assets as much as possible.”

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