Thousands of Miami students return to classes today: What officials are doing about COVID-19

Thousands of Miami University students are starting the second semester in-person classes and remote learning Monday while school officials warn to stay vigilant about coronavirus precautions. (File Photo\Journal-News)
Thousands of Miami University students are starting the second semester in-person classes and remote learning Monday while school officials warn to stay vigilant about coronavirus precautions. (File Photo\Journal-News)

Thousands of students are returning today under the still lingering shadow coronavirus to second semester classes at Miami University and its regional campuses.

The number of students who will be living in residence halls at Miami’s main Oxford campus is up compared to the fall semester, said university officials.

School officials said they hope precautions will keep Miami from seeing a repeat of the sharp spikes in students testing positive that occurred at the start of autumn classes.

“We saw COVID-19 spread quickly among our students in Oxford shortly after their arrival in the fall, and hope that everyone will do their best to prevent that situation this spring,” said Jayne Brownell, Miami’s vice president of student life.

ExploreLarge spike in Miami University cases threatens return to campus

“We are in a small town and can quickly overwhelm the resources needed to follow up with cases.”

In the fall there were 4,479 students living in main campus residence halls. The second semester will see 5,001 students in dorms. In a typical, non-coronavirus academic year about 8,000 students live on the Oxford campus.

Brownell said all students, whether they are taking live classes or learning remotely, will have to remain vigilant in protecting themselves and others from the virus.

“Rates of COVID-19 in the U.S. are higher now than at any point since the pandemic began, so our precautionary measures must remain in place or increase,” she wrote in a statement sent to students at all of Miami’s campuses, which include Hamilton, Middletown and the VOA Learning Center in West Chester Twp.

“The good news is that we also know more now and are better prepared for life during this pandemic than at any other time, and trust that you know how important it is that you take steps to help keep yourself and our community healthy”

Officials had previously urged students to reduce their level of contact with others prior to arriving in Oxford.

All returning residence hall students were first required to participate in a drive-through, coronavirus testing site at Miami’s Millett Hall similar to what took place prior to classes start in the fall.

ExploreMiami students face coronavirus testing before being allowed to return to campus

“This spring, Miami will have access to new types of rapid testing. When you participate in surveillance and wide-net testing, you may be asked to complete a saliva test. You will not be notified of your result unless COVID-19 is detected in your saliva test. If COVID-19 is detected, you will be asked to quickly return for a confirmatory … test and to limit your interactions with others until receiving the results of that test,” said Brownell.

Despite all the changes, she told returning students “we are hopeful that we can have a successful term together (and) we all hope this is the last semester we will have to take these extraordinary measures.”

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