Following the launch of a digital COVID-19 tracker earlier this week, the University reported 23 new positive cases on Thursday — the highest one-day spike — to make for a total of 40 positive student cases since Aug. 17.
The total number of cases amongst students, faculty, staff and contract employees since Aug. 17 is now 67, not including pre-arrival testing, according to the University community tracker.
“Pre-arrival testing is not included in the number of positive student cases. This figure represents the number of students who tested positive through Student Health & Wellness or through a U.Va. clinic,” the tracker states. Before their return to Grounds, the University asked all undergraduate, graduate and professional students to take an at-home COVID-19 test from the University’s testing vendor, LetsGetChecked. As of Aug. 24, out of 13,000 initial pre-test results, 36 students tested positive for coronavirus.
The apparent spike in positive test results within the community, most of which are among students, comes before the University is expected to announce later this afternoon whether or not in-person classes will resume on Sept. 8.
The rise in cases also follows a troubling trend at other universities across the country. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill switched to online-only learning after reporting a significant rise in cases within a week of starting in-person classes, asking students to leave on-campus residence halls.
At North Carolina State University, students shifted to online-only learning after a little more than a week, when more than 500 students who were forced to quarantine because of their exposure to COVID-19. At Notre Dame University, school leaders put a pause on in-person learning after cases dramatically rose to 147 on Aug. 18.
At U.Va., the Student Council Executive Board has called for classes to remain online and for an opt-out system to be implemented for on-Grounds housing.
“The University cannot, in good conscience, resume in-person instruction. COVID-19 will spread, the Charlottesville community will suffer, and students, faculty, staff and community members will die,” the statement reads.
During an online meeting last week, the Charlottesville Human Rights Commission declared its intent to send a letter to President Jim Ryan urging him to not bring undergraduate students back to Grounds.
In order to return to on Grounds housing and attend in-person classes, students are required to submit a negative COVID-19 test or attest to self-quarantining for 10 days after submitting a positive test.