UD lowers campus status, moves to some in-person learning next week

The University of Dayton front entrance off of Stewart Street in Dayton. Jim Noelker/Staff
The University of Dayton front entrance off of Stewart Street in Dayton. Jim Noelker/Staff

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

The University of Dayton downgrading its campus alert level Status 3-Yellow-Caution Friday will be followed with the start of in-person classes for some courses Wednesday.

UD President Eric Spina said Friday that Thursday’s tally of COVID-19 cases came to 21 new cases compared to a single-day peak of more than 150 cases.

He said officials are pleased that the seven-day average of new cases, the positivity rate of randomly tested students and the number of active coronavirus cases on campus have continued to decline.

“We have had very good meetings the past two days with our medical panel and with (Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County) Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper and his team, and they agree that these trends allow us to lower the campus status to ‘caution’ and move some classes to in-person learning starting this coming Wednesday,” Spina said Friday.

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In-person classes have been “very carefully designed” to allow for physical distancing, he said. Face coverings are required everywhere, including classrooms, and students and staff have been trained in safety measures, including cleaning and disinfecting between classes, Spina said.

University leaders will continue to evaluate the COVID-19 case trends, and expect to announce next week if additional classes will move to in-person instruction, officials said.

Enhanced safety measures remain in effect, including no in-person dining and no visitors in a student’s room, suite or house.

“To continue the decline in cases and help prevent new clusters, please ask your parents to cancel any hotel reservations and to not come to Dayton for Family Weekend,” Spina wrote in a letter to students.

To help protect against spread in the greater Dayton community, Spina also asked students to not leave campus unless it’s for an approved educational reason such as a co-op, internship, or student teaching assignment; outside employment; or for essentials like groceries or medications.

That includes visiting bars or restaurants, he said.

“We’re asking students to remain on campus to protect against spreading the virus,” he said. “We also continue to focus on testing students for COVID, including hundreds of students a week as part of our surveillance testing program. We continue to isolate confirmed cases and move their close contacts into quarantine.”

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Classes that rely upon an in-person component, such as laboratory classes, studio classes and capstone classes “really need the physical space” and face to face interactions with a professor, Spina said.

“Altogether it’s about 770 sections that will start meeting on Wednesday,” he said, estimating that represents between a quarter and a third of all the sections that UD offers. “We anticipate that most of our students will have at least one face-to-face interaction beginning on Wednesday. Not everyone, but most of the students.”

Spina said UD hopes to be able to open up more courses to in-person learning the week of Sept. 21 if current trends continue.

“This does remain a critical time for us at UD," he said. "Our students and our entire Flyer community cannot let up in efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus. We must continue to wear face coverings, keep physical distance and follow other safety protocols.”

Spina expressed gratitude to students who continued following safety protocols, especially those who are encouraging their friends and peers to do so, as well.

“We’ve seen really an amazing turnaround over the last two weeks in terms of students wearing masks, limiting the number of individuals at gatherings," he said. “We really never had the big parties we had to worry about at UD. We had these smaller gatherings.”

Spina said UD would continue to take actions against students who violate health-related protocols.

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