I’ve got two in Boone, and I’m meticulously checking the App State coronavirus dashboard for updates (35 active cases among students as of Tuesday) and texting questions to the kids about the COVID culture on campus: Are people wearing masks? Are they enforcing the rules? Are people throwing parties anyway?
So far, so good.
The ridiculous clusters at NC State frat houses, the stupid parties at ECU and UNC-Chapel Hill’s outrageous positive-test percentage get all the press, but the rest of the UNC System schools are quietly getting the job done, particularly in the Triad.
UNC School of the Arts, for example, has three cases right now — one student and two staff members. A&T has had 16 cases total among students since July 1, and UNCG has reported a total of 21 among students, faculty and staff since that date, with nine current cases among students. WSSU has reported five cases among students, three on campus and two off-campus.
Compare that to Chapel Hill, where 633 students have tested positive since Aug. 12. NC State added 63 new cases in the last seven days, with a positive-test rate of 18.6 percent. Remember, that number needs to drop below 5 percent statewide before we can enter Phase 3. And ECU registered 262 new cases in the last week. Their positive-test rate for that period: 25.9 percent.
A few layers of reporting reveals the culprit to be a party culture, bolstered by fraternities and sororities and other socially-minded students who shrugged off the warnings, just like everybody said they would.
Now, I’m not throwing stones at the kids. If this had happened while I was in college, I likely would have caught COVID-19 the first day back. So, I’m not really surprised at the proliferation of coronavirus on these campuses.
What surprises me are the campuses that are faring so well.
The race is not over; in fact, it’s barely begun. We have three more months in the semester — no breaks — during which a lot could go wrong. But I’m hopeful. I must be.
My oldest, a junior at App, texted me today asking if the surge in cases at NC State, ECU and UNC-Chapel Hill might cause the entire UNC System to go that way: online-only classes and all the resident students come home.
Neither one of them wants to come home.
“They could never do that,” I texted back. “It wouldn’t be fair.”
But we’re keeping their beds made, just in case.