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Reader: CU Should Never Have Brought Students Back

Baker Hall on the University of Colorado Boulder campus.
Baker Hall on the University of Colorado Boulder campus.
colorado.edu

On September 15, the University of Colorado Boulder, in partnership with Boulder County Public Health, issued a two-week stay-at-home order, after almost 400 positive cases connected with CU were tallied in recent weeks.

The news got worse on September 18, when Governor Jared Polis revealed that Boulder now has a 16 percent positivity rate for cases of the novel coronavirus — by far the worst figure in the state — owing mainly to a series of safety setbacks at CU. "That's the kind of positivity rate we see in areas with major outbreaks across the country," Polis noted, calling the number "rather alarming."

And some readers are alarmed, as they noted in their comments on recent CU stories. Says Bonnie:

CU should have never brought students back.

Adds Gretchen: 

Some of the seniors I worked with in a sorority at DU are facing expulsion for a house party the first night back on campus. I would love to say I’m surprised, but who would I be kidding?

Responds Alex:

It was never about it being dangerous to young people. It's about them giving it to old people. Can't believe this still has to be explained seven months later...

Replies Jennifer:

And the quarantine dorms/hotels are full. Have you not read comparisons between COVID and other viruses and how they can affect your body decades from now? Long-term implications are real.

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And then we received this note from a student in CU's Baker Hall:

On August 18, I became a freshman at the University of Colorado Boulder. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous. However, I realized how those nerves were a normal thing to experience, and I had nothing to worry about, as I trusted my school would work hard to keep me safe. When housing told me they wouldn’t refund or pro-rate any fees due to our semester ending early, I was confused. I received the explanation that the extra fees would be funding precautionary COVID-19 safety measures, such as daily saliva testing. After learning this information, my fears diminished and I felt protected.

But it wasn’t long before my feeling of security quickly disappeared. We were told the daily saliva test results were 100 percent accurate.  I further researched this and found data that stated the following: “...The [saliva] test predicted with 100% accuracy all of the negative samples.” Given that information, I made it a rule of thumb to only be around people who I knew had negative saliva test results. Naturally, I felt deceived after finding out that over five people I knew received false negative results. They were actually positive. They found out by choosing to further get PCR tested since they didn’t feel well.

I tried to remind myself that the people were working hard to fight the COVID-19 cases; it couldn’t have been an easy task, and it’s not their fault this happened. However, the next red flag waved when those positive people weren’t directly put into isolation.

Yesterday the COVID-19 update page showed how only 68 percent of the isolation rooms were in use. If that’s the case, why is my friend who is living on the floor below me and positive with COVID-19 days ago still in his room? This isn’t what I signed up for when I was told my money would be funding COVID services, and if our money is funding so much, why was I told I need to pay $100 to get tested at the Wardenburg center? If there were so many beds still available, then why are students getting moved out of the Darley North hall to make more isolation rooms? Why is it that I’ve been sitting in the hall for the past five hours to avoid being around my roommate who is positive for COVID-19 and still in my room?

This isn’t what I signed up for. My classmates living on the floor below me who have been positive for days are still waiting to go into isolation, while another person in my hall who just received her positive result is being moved into isolation in a few hours? This isn’t meant to disrespect the hard work everyone is putting into trying to keep us safe. The frontline workers are strong and very much appreciated. Rather, this is to shed light on the lies and fear I am experiencing. I did not sign up for this in my contract, because I didn’t know my university would put their students through just about anything until they received tuition checks. I trusted they would do whatever they could to keep us safe.

Keeping students who tested positive for COVID-19 in the dorms to infect everything they touch and allowing them to roam off campus to infect people in our community isn’t right. Making it so I’m afraid to be in my room while simultaneously being scared to step out in my hall isn’t safe. Putting students’ health over money by not sending us home to keep tuition is NOT SAFE.

CU Boulder is putting our community at risk, and this is a plea to send students home. Yes, it’s a difficult thing to do, but it’s the RIGHT thing to do to protect our community and our neighbors.

Boulder County Public Health has opened two new free testing facilities in Boulder, and staffers there and with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment are now assessing whether infections among CU Boulder students have started spreading beyond the campus. They're "watching to see if they're getting a lid on it with the college population or if this is becoming a community spread," Polis noted at his September 18 press conference.

What do you think CU should do at this point? What should Boulder County Public Health do? Post a comment or email editorial@westword.com.

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