Several students test positive for COVID after Ga. university reopens

Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville.



Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville.

Several students from Milledgeville’s Georgia College tested positive for COVID-19 during the first days of classes, according to the university.

The school was among the first of Georgia’s 26 public colleges and universities to resume in-person instruction, which began Wednesday.

Nine students were reported as testing positive between Wednesday and Friday, the 7,000-student liberal arts college reported on its website. Another nine students were reported as positive from Aug. 7 through the day before classes resumed.

A spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday. The university’s website said a committee of representatives from emergency preparedness, health care, student services and other departments is monitoring COVID-19 cases on campus, in addition to state and local partners.

“The current situation is still very fluid,” Georgia College stated in its reopening guidance. “Much can and will change as we move forward. As a result, please be aware that as new information emerges or if we receive additional guidance and directives, we may need to adjust and react accordingly.”

The University System of Georgia is spending millions of dollars to prepare for the fall semester after colleges and universities ended in-person instruction in March.

Campuses are reopening, but most classes will have online components. Students, faculty and staff are required to wear face masks in classrooms and other spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. Outdoor seating areas have been added, campus bus routes shortened and plexiglass barriers installed in classrooms.

COVID testing strategies are varied. Public universities have the option of doing their own testing or working with community organizations and state public health officials, and they have different guidance for when students test positive. Schools are requesting that students, faculty and staff self-screen for COVID symptoms before visiting campuses.

Many students, parents and faculty have raised concerns about the plans, especially after several private universities in metro Atlanta, including Oglethorpe University, Agnes Scott College, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse and Spelman colleges, announced online-only instruction for the fall semester. Some want more on-campus safeguards and transparency about planning and developments, while others are requesting a return to remote learning.