Despite residence hall cases, UVA says fall semester progressing as planned

Despite residence hall cases, UVA says fall semester progressing as planned

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - COVID-19 cases are climbing on grounds, with more than 180 students testing positive in the last week. However, the administration says this is in line with what was expected.

Over the weekend three more residence halls at the University of Virginia were notified of potential COVID-19 exposure in the dorms due to students that were asymptomatic and didn’t even know they’d been exposed.

It’s something the university says staff knew would happen when students returned to grounds: cases reported in residence halls, despite precautions in place.

“This is just something that we do anticipate will happen," University Spokesperson Brian Coy explained. "What what matters is what happens next.”

Last week, Balz-Dobie Hall was notified of five COVID-19 cases in the dorm. The entire building was put under quarantine for a day and a half, until the rest of the residents could be tested. Follow-up testing determined 10 additional cases.

Then, over the weekend, after wastewater testing revealed possible cases in Echols, Kellogg and Lefevre halls, more point prevalence testing was conducted. Testing found 1 new case in Echols, Five in Kellogg and 3 more cases in Lefevre.

“In each of these residence halls, in different ways, we have some indicator that there would be, there are students who are ill, either having tested positive or through wastewater," Coy explained. "We made the decision to just test the whole residence hall.”

Wastewater testing was put into place earlier this month. The University says so far it has provided an invaluable early alert system for asymptomatic carriers.

“You can actually catch cases, when people are just starting to get sick, and before they may be particularly contagious," Coy said. "That’s a great way of trying to get ahead of the virus and avoid outbreaks.”

The number of cases in the university community, and of students in particular, continue to rise. 62 new student cases were confirmed over the weekend. As of Monday, 1/4 of quarantine rooms for potentially exposed students are occupied, and 7 percent of the isolation rooms reserved for confirmed cases are filled.

That’s part of the reason the university is staying the course, and doesn’t see a reason to shift to all online at this time.

“The events of the weekend are in keeping with the plan. I mean, this is this is how we have planned to deal with this virus, and we have resources to do that,” Coy said. He went on to explain that the university does, though, have a threshold at which they will decide to go online.

“There is no one number and there is no one act, So it’s a range of factors,” Coy said. "You mentioned quarantine and isolation capacity, depending on where those numbers are cases are either, you know, an uptick of five cases is either not that important, or very important.”

UVA’s COVID-19 Tracker is updated at 4 p.m. Monday through Friday with the latest figures of positive cases in the university community.

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