Bucknell and Susquehanna universities, including faculty, staffers, and especially students, seem to have done a good job managing a return to campus during a global pandemic. These communities deserve praise because that isn’t the case everywhere.
According to The New York Times, there have been more than 88,000 cases of COVID-19 linked to 1,190 college campuses across the nation.
At Susquehanna, which first brought students back Aug. 20, there have been no confirmed cases. At Bucknell, whose students returned a week earlier, there have been 15 cases, 10 among students.
Penn State had more than 200 cases among students just last week, including four dozen athletes who have been under strict protocols since returning over the summer. Bloomsburg University has had 284 students test positive so far although the increase seemed to level off last week.
Clearly, leaders at Bucknell and Susquehanna sent strong messages to students before arrival and have continued to do so.
Both universities required two negative tests of all students before they were even permitted on campus.
Susquehanna is spending thousands of dollars to monitor wastewater at student-occupied residences in hopes of catching positive samples early. The system worked as intended last week when a presumptive positive popped up, students were quarantined and tested for COVID even though retest of the water came back negative.
If SU students didn’t think the mitigation efforts were to be taken seriously, the fact that a student was sent home for violating the school’s community policy before classes even started likely did the trick.
At Bucknell, president John Bravman called students out after the first weekend on campus following reports of “thoughtless behavior,” citing the university’s responsibility as a community partner as key. “If outbreaks of the virus compromise the ability of our faculty and staff to safely deliver our residential educational experience, or threaten the health and well-being of our Lewisburg neighbors, or burden our local medical facilities and resources, I will end in-person instruction to protect our community, just as I did in March. I truly do not want to do that, but I will if the facts demand such action,” Bravman wrote to students.
The campus community helps mitigate these local universities. All students live on campus at SU and a few hundred Bucknell students live off-campus. Lycoming College in Williamsport, which also requires students to live on campus, has had three cases. That isn’t the case at places where thousands of students live off-campus and behaviors off-hours are more difficult to monitor.
But even with those built-in safety nets, the university communities have done a great job so far.
Keep up the good work.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.