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UVM students return to strict testing requirements

Published: Feb. 1, 2021 at 5:36 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 1, 2021 at 7:51 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Most college students in Vermont are now back from winter break. Our Ike Bendavid takes you to the University of Vermont to see how it’s going and what’s changed for the spring semester.

With masks up and the temperatures down, the UVM campus was active Monday, as in-person classes returned for the second semester of the school year.

“I haven’t been to an in-person class since March, had my first in-person class today. I was like the most excited I have been for school since elementary school. It feels good to be back on campus,” said Emma Frank, a junior.

“I do feel good about coming back, having my first in-person class,” said Ryan Joseph, a senior.

UVM says about 4,300 students moved in on campus over the weekend, about the same as last semester.

“It’s great to see people walking around campus. And you’re right, that energy is back. I think that by all accounts it was a very successful opening,” said Gary Derr of UVM.

Students had a strict onboarding process before heading to class, including testing negative for coronavirus and a quarantine. The school says out of 2,500 tested Saturday, four came back positive.

“We are continuing required seven-day testing for all of our students that are coming to campus,” Derr said.

Norwich University has plans to be like UVM with testing every week and in-person classes.

Right now, students are again back in a modified quarantine since last week.

Monday afternoon, the school had posted more than 90 positive cases of the virus since students returned and more than 60 active cases. The school says the rise in cases came from 30 students showing up on day zero positive.

“Through the contact tracing and the investigations there has been no evidence that a student party led to a spread of transmission,” said Daphne Larkin of Norwich University.

They are aware of a COVID party but it was a group of six that already tested positive and were in isolation. They say it didn’t spread from that event.

“There was behavior but it’s not being correlated to the high number of cases,” Larkin said.

Norwich says it is working with about 60 students who want to leave campus and finish the semester online, which includes a prorated refund of room and board.

They hope to continue to contain the on-campus cases and move to in-person learning.

“The in-person model is still a goal, absolutely,” Larkin said.

Back at UVM, students told me as different as this semester will be, they are happy with the progress

“I honestly think they are handling it really well,” Frank said. “I don’t think I have been in a situation so far on campus where I feel unsafe.”

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