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Burlington mayor concerned with UVM’s return-to-school plan

Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 12:57 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 7, 2020 at 7:16 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - In the midst of the pandemic, the city of Burlington is at odds with the University of Vermont over the school’s plan for returning students. Mayor Miro Weinberger sent a letter to UVM President Suresh Garimella outlining several concerns over testing, enforcement and transparency.

Students who need to quarantine on-campus are set to arrive starting August 14, and the city is expressing doubt over the school’s extensive testing protocol.

All students must complete and return an at-home COVID test, at least five days before they get to Burlington. Students will then be tested the day they arrive, and then get weekly tests until mid-September. The university says there will be serious consequences for students who don’t follow testing protocol. Weinberger says that’s not enough enforcement. He suggests a suspension for some students who miss up to two tests.

The mayor is calling for more transparency, too, when it comes to testing data. Right now, the school plans to share total positive cases once a week. The mayor calls for new results to be shared daily.

The city also wants to know about any new infections of students who live off-campus, so it can work to contain the virus. In case test results get delayed for some reason, Weinberger wants a backup plan to keep the community safe.

In the letter, the mayor also asks the administration to rethink testing students once a week after a new study suggests testing students every two days to curb the spread of COVID-19 on college campuses.

Other concerns include isolation locations for students, testing beyond the mid-September commitment and the few requirements or consequences for off-campus students.

UVM says it will issue a formal response to the mayor, but for now, told WCAX News in a statement, “We have had many discussions with the city, and we welcome the opportunity to continue those discussions. The university is carefully and aggressively taking all appropriate steps to ensure that our strategy meets or exceeds the state’s Safe and Healthy Return to Campus guidance.”

Related Story:

UVM says COVID-19 tests will start before students arrive on campus

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