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25 November 2020

COVID on Campus, a Fall 2020 Retrospective

The University System of Georgia (USG) forced faculty, staff, and students into in-person classroom instruction for the Fall 2020 semester. To my knowledge, there has been no indication that any high-level campus administrators at Georgia College (GC) raised any concerns with the Chancellor, Board of Regents, or anyone else at the USG over the wisdom of this initiative. Over the semester, I have regularly updated data visualization of my campus's COVID-19 cases. In-person classes ended yesterday (11/24). Below are those charts:

Here are some facts, findings, and dates:
  • More than 12% of students (727) taking at least one in-person course disclosed a positive COVID test during the semester.
  • 36 employees disclosed a positive COVID test during the semester.
  • The peak reporting of new cases occurred on 8/24 with 79 new cases, 16 days after students moved into on-campus housing and 12 days after classes began.
  • The peak of active infections (i.e. total cases 14-day window) occurred on 8/31 with 539 cases (9% of students [536] taking at least one in-person course), 23 days after students moved into on-campus housing and 19 days after classes began.
  • GC president, Steve Dorman, threatened students with suspension over non-compliance with university policy on 8/25.
  • GC Student Life announced the creation of a COVID CARE Response Team on 9/8.
  • GC Student Health Services began offering no-cost COVID-19 saliva tests on 9/11.
  • USG chancellor, Steve Wrigley, announced that we will "stay the course" on 9/15.
  • Under remarkably similar circumstances (i.e. 700 student cases on ~4000-student campus), SUNY-Oneonta president, Barbara Jean Morris, resigned on 10/15.

A few notes:
  • The data are primarily confirmed test results volunteered by students and employees, which means the actual numbers are certainly higher than reported.
  • At no point before or during the semester did the administration conduct any systematic contact tracing.
  • The administration neither required nor offered testing of students or employees before returning to campus for the semester.
  • 5859 students took at least one in-person course during the semester.
  • The administration published "employee" test results but did not distinguish between faculty and staff, and I have been unable to find a total count of current employees on campus.

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