INDIANAPOLIS — Butler University undergraduate students will start the first two weeks of the fall semester remotely, the school announced on Sunday.
Butler quotes a lack of compliance from students in following COVID-19 safety guidelines, an increase in coronavirus positivity rates and the university’s contact tracers prove that rate could steadily go up.
At this time, the university says it has identified 75 students who have been in close contact with people who are positive for COVID-19. Due to this, they do predict the number of students with the virus to rise.
Those who have come into contact with positive cases, or are positive themselves have been placed into quarantine, according to Butler.
Read the full statement by Butler, here:
We are writing to inform you that we have made the difficult, but necessary, decision that although our campus will remain residential, all undergraduate instruction will occur remotely for the first two weeks of the semester. Please note that graduate instruction will proceed as originally planned, including P3 and P4 students in the Doctor of Pharmacy program.
We will be conducting a webinar to share further information this evening, Sunday, August 23, from 6:00-7:00 PM EDT with undergraduate students and their families. You can access the webinar on our website here. [link.mediaoutreach.meltwater.com]
The University utilizes a matrix of external and internal metrics to monitor the spread of COVID-19 on our campus to ensure data-informed decisions. Our decision to start the semester remotely for undergraduate courses was made for three primary reasons.
- A lack of compliance with health and safety guidelines. Although most students have been following our new protocols to promote the well-being of our campus community, there have been ongoing violations by a small percentage of students, including violating quarantine and self-isolation protocols, not responding truthfully to the Daily Health Checkup, not complying with contact tracing efforts, and hosting or attending on- and off-campus parties. This has resulted in approximately 50 students to date who are being charged with violations of the Student Commitment for Personal and Community Well-being [link.mediaoutreach.meltwater.com]. Students found in violation of our expectations will be sanctioned, up to and including removal from campus.
- An increase in the COVID-19 positivity rate. The University required all students to be tested on campus prior to moving into on-campus housing or attending their first class. While we had roughly a 0.5 percent positivity rate from our entry testing up through Wednesday, August 19, since that time our positivity rate has increased to roughly two percent. In addition, an increasing number of students have reported COVID-19 symptoms, and we are able to link these increases in confirmed positive cases and symptomatic individuals to the non-compliant behaviors mentioned above.
- Predictive measures from our contact tracing process. To date, our contact tracing efforts have identified approximately 75 students who have been identified as close contacts of a positive case, and placed in quarantine as a preventative measure. Thus, we may reasonably anticipate further increases in students who will test positive for COVID-19 among those currently in quarantine.
As a result of these indicators, we need to take decisive action to prevent the exponential spread of the virus that has occurred at other campuses and to protect our students, faculty, and staff from further spread of illness.
During this two-week period of time, students will be following a modified “shelter in place” protocol. In particular, students will not access any campus facilities other than their residence halls, dining facilities, and outside spaces. Although all in-person activities (e.g., HRC, University Athletics, and in-person student organization activities outside one’s living units) will be suspended during this time, many virtual activities will occur. All student support services will remain available through virtual means.
Our ability to continue with our planned residential experience with in-person classes relies on a shared commitment to keeping one another safe by following the rules—including wearing masks whenever you are in the presence of others regardless of social distance (inside and outside), maintaining at least six feet of social distancing whenever possible, frequent handwashing, and maintaining small social circles. The next two weeks will be an opportunity for each of our students to demonstrate your commitment to the health and safety guidelines to maintain a residential campus.
We have instituted a COVID concern reporting process to enlist your help in identifying those students who are engaging in behaviors that may compromise a successful fall semester for the vast majority of you who want to be here and are following the guidelines. If you see behavior that violates Butler’s COVID-related expectations, please report it by clicking the COVID Concerns button on my.butler, the Butler App, or the University’s COVID webpage [link.mediaoutreach.meltwater.com].
We will continue to do our very best to make an on-campus and in-person experience possible, and we expect you to do the same.