University of Miami students began returning to campus on the week of August 10th in preparation for the start of in-person classes on campus on August 17th.
The University had asked students to follow social distancing guidelines and to wear masks on campus.
On August 15th, a since removed video surfaced on social media showing an unknown number of freshmen partying in a dorm room on campus, with no social distancing and/or masks in sight.
The party prompted the University to take action and President Frenk released a video to students on August 17th, where he highlighted the importance of following what he calls the three Ws. “We cannot control the way other people behave, but we can encourage the things we know work. The U.S. Surgeon General has referred to these behaviors as the three Ws—wash your hands, watch your distance, wear a face covering.”
President Frenk went on to address the incident specifically: “
With reports of unauthorized and health-risking behavior on campus already beginning to surface on social media, let me be clear: any student hosting or participating in a social gathering in violation of the measures we have put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 will face disciplinary charges by the Dean of Students Office. If found responsible, these students will be removed from campus and suspended. Resident students are also subject to housing review, which can result in eviction from on-campus housing. Regrettably, there are already a few cases we are having to address. I am aware that developmentally, young people are wired to seek new experiences and interact with their peers—and, unless they are mindful about their choices, these natural tendencies can lead to risky behavior. On that point, I implore all of us—students, faculty, and staff—to consider the consequences of taking risks.”
News of the few cases was released on Friday of last week, when the University announced that four dorm resident students had tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the University to quarantine 51 students. “After determining that four students in Hecht Residential College had tested positive for COVID-19 this week, those students, and several others who have shown symptoms, were immediately removed from their floors and are in isolation in another location. Out of an abundance of caution, the remaining 51 students on floors 7 and 8 in McDonald Tower are being required to quarantine for a short time in their rooms or at home until those students are tested and results determined.”
Faculty who held in-person classes with these students within 48 and 72 hours prior to the students showing symptoms have also been advised.