Health officials weigh in on college COVID-19 risks

Health officials weigh in on college COVID risks

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - From the classroom to colleges, preventing the spread of COVID-19 has been a challenge.

Local health officials are now addressing the COVID-19 clusters showing up on college campuses.

Also, they talk about what can be done to help stop the virus from moving at a freighting pace.

Dr. John Gaudet, president of the Mississippi Chapter- American Academy of Pediatrics said,”We have a very high transmission of coronavirus right now in the community, and when those students start moving to their colleges and campuses and dorm rooms they are bringing it with them.”

He says colleges and universities are learning just how fast the coronavirus can move on campus.

For example: Officials at Mississippi College confirmed seven students recently tested positive for COVID-19.

Campus officials say contact tracing is now being done.

Gaudet said, “And a lot of the colleges are requiring testing, so whereas if they weren’t having symptoms before and weren’t complaining, now they’re getting tested so we are finding these cases where otherwise they would have gone undetected.”

State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs is also concerned.

He says says the State Health Department is investigating outbreaks at Ole Miss and the Mississippi University for Women.

Gaudet says the coronavirus clusters at colleges many hearing about the across country have been linked to fraternities, sororities, and off-campus parties.

He says it’s important students resist the temptation to hang out in big crowds during the height of this pandemic.

“I want to tell those kids if there is a party, a bonfire, a dance or gathering, just don’t go, stay in your dorm room. Don’t go.”

Due to increase in cases some colleges are having to change their plans, others are scrambling to find ways to protect their students and prevent the virus from disrupting the the semester.

Gaudet said, “I think colleges are having a whole lot harder than high schools because you live there and also because your parents are not there to help you and so it’s a great challenge. Many colleges have switched to online learning now and some colleges are sending some students home with their parents to do online learning. I think what’s going on with community transmission that is going to be necessary.“

He says it’s also crucial that parents educate their college students on ways to stay safe and young people also have to follow CDC guidelines to stay safe this semester.

“Walk fast, go to class. Hopefully, desks are spaced appropriately, and wear your mask the whole time you’re there and then when you’re done keep moving. Go back to your dorm or your study hall, and carry a bottle of hand sanitizer with you, and sanitize surfaces you have to touch such as going to the cafeteria line. Do what you can to prevent the spread of the virus.”

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