Editorial: Sending students home is a bad idea

COVID-19 has been ravaging the Mankato area for quite some time now. Beginning when local bars opened up again, a large uptick in cases occurred among young adults.

The total number of reported cases for the area since March 16 is at 1,458 as of Sept. 9. 

According to the Blue Earth County website, 49% of all of the reported cases of the virus have been among people between the ages of 20-29.

The median age of individuals hospitalized is 62 years of age.

With the number of students living on campus, there will no doubt be a spike in transmissions. It is difficult for the university to ask new students to not make new friends and mingle with each other.

So, what happens when there is an increase in transmissions across campus?

It would be incredibly irresponsible for the university to send on-campus students home again, like last fall, if there is an outbreak.

Students are in the age group that are extremely unlikely to feel serious effects from COVID-19 and are very likely to even be asymptomatic. 

If these exposed students are sent home, they could bring the virus home with them. The communities they return to are likely to be more at risk for serious cases of the virus. 

The university should seriously consider leaving students in the dorms in the event of an outbreak. 

In this event, on campus amenities could be closed down, and a more socially distant method of distribution of food could be created, such as a pre-packaged meal system for students on campus.

If this outbreak happens, it could be expected to have at-risk campus staff work from home, as they did over the last semester. Those who are not as at risk could be allowed to use their discretion on if they would like to stay on campus or work from home.

When analyzing the numbers, students are simply less likely to feel serious repercussions from the COVID-19 virus than those that they could infect.

In the event that the university shuts down the dorms again, they could potentially be creating an explosion of transmissions all across the state to the students’ own communities. 

The potential for this should encourage the university to keep the students on campus, regardless if there are in person classes.

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