Students at a major university in the US have been thrown off campus for holding crowded parties in their dormitory rooms in breach of coronavirus restrictions.
Just days after students returned to campus at the University of Connecticut, footage of what has been dubbed by US media as “pandemic parties” surfaced on social media.
Students began returning to campus last Friday (local time) and had to take a mandatory coronavirus test before they were permitted back into the classroom.
All were supposed to limit their contact with others during their first 14 days back at school.
A Snapchat video of a dorm room party was posted on social media site Reddit in a dedicated university forum under the caption, “UConn, let’s be better than that”.
“Imagine being stupid enough to post incriminating evidence AND have your name attached to it,” one Reddit user wrote.
“This is beyond parody at this point. Not only do they disregard the bare minimum of safety, but they post it with faces online. It's a big ‘f*** you’ because they don't think the administration will do anything. UConn needs to make an example out of these people, otherwise, we're heading back [home] before September ends,” another student said.
School officials notified the campus community of the disciplinary actions and investigations in a letter on Tuesday night (local time).
“Students were not wearing masks, closely assembled, and endangering not only their own health and wellbeing, but that of others at a time when UConn is working to protect our community and resume classes in the context of a deadly global pandemic,” the letter sent by Eleanor Daugherty, associate vice president and dean of students, and Pamela Schipani, executive director of residential life, said.
Temporary disciplinary action was taken against an undisclosed number of students and they were removed from student housing pending a school investigation, they said.
Speaking to local news station WFSB, a number of students said they had heard about dorm parties being organised or seen them being promoted by students online.
“I have heard of them, I feel if people were to get together maybe [it should be] later on when we know who’s negative and who is positive,” one student said.
“There [were] posts floating around on social media saying: ‘Stay safe - your party isn’t worth another death’,” another said.
As of Wednesday (local time), UConn had received more than 5,000 coronavirus test results for on-campus students. Eight tested positive and are being isolated.
Three off-campus students also tested positive, along with two faculty and staff.
“There will undoubtedly be more positive cases as more test results are returning in the coming days, and we will address each the same way as we work to protect the health of individual students and our community,” Ms Daugherty said in a statement.
The university said there was no indication of a major outbreak in the dorms and said the students’ actions were not representative of the entire student body, most of which had been following the coronavirus protocols.
In the state of Connecticut, with a population of 3.5 million, there has been more than 51,310 recorded coronavirus cases and 4,457 deaths associated with COVID-19 during the pandemic so far.
Many US universities have changed course and moved all undergraduate classes online as schools struggle to contain outbreaks and students continue to gather in large groups without masks or social distancing.
The University of North Carolina ended in-person teaching for undergraduates this week just days after reopening, following the positive test results of dozens of students living in dorms and a fraternity house.
On Wednesday (local time), the University of Notre Dame in the state of Indiana canceled all in-person classes and moved all instruction online for at least two weeks as it reevaluates its safety protocols.
The school has recorded more then 220 known cases, which university officials have pinned the surge in infections to off-campus parties.
The coronavirus death toll in the US has surpassed 170,000.
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