Officials at sparse Miami campus unveil new coronavirus alert system: What students are saying

Miami University’s sparsely populated campus got a new coronavirus warning system Wednesday, and students said it’s strange being in college during a pandemic, although they appreciate the school’s many safety efforts.

There are just more than half of the usual 8,000 students now living in residence halls on Miami’s main Oxford campus.

Usually early fall sees a swarm of students moving about campus, but thousands chose to exercise the remote-learning instead of coming to the school.

Despite the lower number of on-campus resident students, Miami officials said recent increases in the number testing positive for coronavirus prompted a new, color-coded warning chart designed to publicize dormitory outbreaks.

“As we have continued our aggressive Covid-19 testing program, we have begun to see a rise in infections in our residence halls,” said Carole Johnson, spokeswoman for Miami.

"This color-coded system is intended to help residential students and those visiting them to take extra precautions to reduce their risk of infection so we can remain together for the entirety of the fall semester,” said Johnson.

Miami officials reported 13 new coronavirus student cases on Tuesday, and the numbers were declining until recently. Since Aug. 17, 1,547 students – most of them off-campus residents – have tested positive, but there has been no incidence of a student being hospitalized.

There have been 3,601 tests conducted among residence hall students since they moved in Sept. 21 with 29 students testing positive.

For sophomore Margaux Harding her second year at Miami so far is a strange one.

“It’s very empty and we never bump into anyone. And I don’t have any in-person classes so they are all on Zoom and pretty impersonal,” said Harding.

“I miss running into people on campus and having spontaneous events all over campus."

Miami University officials unveiled a new coronavirus alert system Wednesday.

Level 1: Yellow – There are no known positive cases in your residence hall in the last 7 days.

Level 2: Orange – There has been one or more known positive case(s) in your residence hall within the last 7 days.

Level 3: Red – There have been several cases in your residence hall within the last 7 days.

Level 4: Purple – There is a COVID-19 outbreak on at least one floor of your residence hall and those living in the identified residential zone (e.g. residence hall floor, corridor, wing or building) are at a very high risk for becoming infected. Miami will implement a Remain-in-Room plan designed to stop the spread of the infection for each residential zone at this level.

QUARANTINE – If the Remain-in-Room Plan is not effective in controlling COVID-19 transmission, a mandatory quarantine of the entire floor or residence hall, depending on the spread of the infection, will be put in place.

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