Is Fauci right to recommend college students not return home during COVID outbreaks?


Fact Box

  • As of September 7, there have been 6.5 million coronavirus cases in the United States with 193, 362 deaths total.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, urged infected college students to stay in school quarantine to avoid heightened outbreaks. He stated, 'When you send them home, particularly when you're dealing with a university where people come from multiple different locations, you could be seeding the different places with infection.”
  • Everyone can be infected by the COVID-19 virus, but older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease are more vulnerable to the virus. 
  • According to a survey of 13,606 college students in the United States, over 93% believed that online class tuition should be lowered.

Andrew (Yes)

Isolation has proven to be the most effective strategy for controlling the spread of COVID-19. Sending students home means potentially exposing more people to the virus, including not only family members of students, but also businesses and transit workers. Many universities host students from several states away, meaning that potentially infected students might be carrying the virus across state lines and through rest stops, airports, and other transit points along the way. Universities should have protocols for students to isolate on campus until the threat of the virus has been mitigated.

While distance learning can be challenging, many students may be better off learning remotely from dorm rooms than returning to their parents' homes. In dormitories, students have access to high-speed internet access and are in control of their environments. At home, students may be burdened with distractions of furloughed parents and siblings who may be keeping different schedules that are incompatible with academic work.

Many small college towns depend on student populations being in residence each year. Even though these students would be social distancing and not using bars, restaurants, and other businesses as they normally would, the economic impact of them leaving, even temporarily, could be devastating for small towns. Students leaving town could potentially be very disruptive for landlords, who would likely miss out on rent payments from students wishing to break leases.

Though it may be tempting for colleges to send students home, doing so is dangerous for students' families and hometowns. Allowing students to remain on campus will benefit students' academic progress and the local economies.

Stephanie (No)

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, Dr. Anthony Fauci, may possess useful information pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he should not have recently suggested that college students infected with the virus remain at their respective universities instead of returning home.

Many have theorized how government mandates regarding wearing masks and limiting business operations are ways to control the masses. Despite Dr. Fauci being a notable physician in the field of infectious disease, he has no right to suggest further how people live their lives during this pandemic. This is especially true for those directly affected. If college students become infected with a serious case of COVID-19, they would likely wish to return home where they can recover in a familiar, comfortable environment, not in a designated quarantine space provided by their university.

Quarantine precautions must also be considered regarding Fauci’s claim. Per the CDC, after testing positive for the coronavirus, practices such as isolating oneself have been continually advocated as being an effective way to prevent further spread of the virus. While keeping infected students at school may seem ideal for this purpose, it is not realistic for young people. Infected persons can still spread the virus while on campus and may be even more inclined to ignore social distancing guidelines while socializing with their peers than at home.

Some may argue that although healthy college students are less likely to face coronavirus-related complications, they can still spread it. However, this argument carries little weight, considering this could be said of any group considered non-vulnerable.

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