College suspends in-person social gatherings after outbreak

November 8, 2021 GMT

COLCHESTER, Vt. (AP) — Halloween parties were a big contributor to an outbreak of COVID-19 cases at St. Michael’s College that prompted the Vermont school to switch to online instruction on Friday, school officials said.

In-person classes resume Monday, but faculty can offer some or all classes virtually through Thanksgiving. All in-person student social gatherings are suspended through Thanksgiving, and guests are no longer permitted on campus.

Seventy-one St. Michael’s students have tested positive for COVID-19 since last Monday.

“We were doing really well as a community up to the point where there were numerous Halloween parties where students were unmasked and in close contact. … this increase in positive cases points to Halloween parties as being a significant part of the problem,” said St. Michael’s president Dr. Lorraine Sterritt.

In a letter to students, Sterritt said the situation was not inevitable and students who do not follow virus guidelines face “severe sanctions.”

The school is creating a new testing center on campus where any asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff can get tested. It’s also asking students to limit travel off campus unless for work or academic purposes.