Protesters demand changes to lower COVID-19 cases at Georgia College

Protesters held a die-in at Georgia College on Friday, Aug. 28, 2020 to publicize demands, such as allowing any student and faculty to participate in classes remotely, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Georgia College has reported more than 500 positive cases since it began tracking cases in mid-June. PHOTO CREDIT: United Campus Workers of Georgia - Georgia College
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Protesters held a die-in at Georgia College on Friday, Aug. 28, 2020 to publicize demands, such as allowing any student and faculty to participate in classes remotely, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Georgia College has reported more than 500 positive cases since it began tracking cases in mid-June. PHOTO CREDIT: United Campus Workers of Georgia - Georgia College

Protesters demanded several measures Friday they believe will lower the number of positive COVID-19 cases at Georgia College, such as allowing any students and faculty to participate in classes online, rigorous contact tracing and improved testing.

The demands were made during a die-in staged by about 40 students and others on the lawn in the middle of the Milledgeville campus Friday morning. More than 800 people have signed an online petition asking President Steve Dorman to allow any students or faculty to participate in classes remotely, a demand that has been made at other University System of Georgia schools. Faculty must get approval from supervisors to work remotely.

“We will not stand for the insufficient policies and procedures for re-opening during the COVID-19 pandemic, which have resulted in the reckless endangerment of the Georgia College and Milledgeville communities,” said Avery James, a graduate student who is a member of the school’s United Campus Workers of Georgia chapter.

ExploreGeorgia College’s COVID case spike creates big test for campus

Georgia College has reported 355 student cases in the last seven days. It’s reported about 500 positive student cases since mid-June, when the college began tracking such data. Georgia College’s enrollment has been about 7,000 students the last two school years. The New York Times reported Wednesday it had the 14th highest number of cases of any U.S. college or university.

School officials have blamed much of the high case totals on off-campus parties and gatherings where students did not follow social distancing recommendations, such as wearing face masks. Administrators have urged students to take measures they hope will reduce the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

The protesters say administrators bear much of the blame for allowing Greek life organizations to have events on campus. They also say many classrooms do not have six feet of distance between people and they want more testing.

Georgia College has partnered with the state to offer testing at the local health department, two CVS pharmacies and private facilities. The tests are sent to a lab, and results can range from one day to up to a week, they’ve said.

Some larger institutions, such as the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, are conducting testing on campus.

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