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President rebukes partygoers as UNR nears 100 COVID-19 cases

Updated September 11, 2020 - 4:45 pm

The University of Nevada, Reno has reported nearly 100 COVID-19 cases since the fall semester began Aug. 24, a trend that prompted its president to rebuke students who he said have been partying off campus without taking proper health precautions.

The university, which has about 20,500 students, had reported 95 coronavirus cases as of Friday. Of those, eight were among faculty and staff, with the rest among students.

Nevada colleges and universities, including UNR, are conducting most of their classes remotely this fall because of the pandemic. Schools are reporting COVID-19 case numbers on their websites, although it doesn’t mean those who tested positive contracted the virus while on a college campus.

In a Sept. 3 message posted on UNR’s website just before Labor Day weekend, President Marc Johnson wrote there have been “some troubling reports of behavior off campus that need to be addressed.”

Some large parties have occurred where participants haven’t practiced social distancing and haven’t worn face masks, he said. “These parties put not only the university community at risk, they jeopardize the entire public health effort that Washoe County has been following since the outbreak of COVID-19 in mid-March.”

Nationwide, large gatherings without proper health protocols have led to spikes in infections on college campuses, Johnson said. “These spikes can adversely affect the health of dozens of individuals. They also put the academic calendar at risk.”

UNR won’t tolerate that kind of behavior during the pandemic, Johnson said. “Let me be clear: Students should not engage in off-campus behavior that violates the (Student Code of Conduct) and adversely and directly affects our community,” he said. “If they do, they face sanction from the university.”

During an employee information session in late August, UNR Provost Kevin Carman said 57 percent of classes this fall will include some in-person teaching and 43 percent will be online only.

About 2,400 students are living in UNR residence halls this semester — more than twice as many as at UNLV.

Since the semester began, the daily COVID-19 case count at UNR has ranged from one — on Aug. 24 and 29 — to 23 cases on Sept. 4.

UNLV, which has about 30,000 students, has reported 15 COVID-19 cases since the fall semester began. About 80 percent of UNLV classes are being offered remotely, while about 1,000 students are living in campus housing.

The College of Southern Nevada, which has about 27,000 students, has reported 10 cases and is offering about 90 percent of its classes remotely. The college doesn’t have dorms.

Nevada State College in Henderson, with more than 5,500 students, has reported four cases. About 70 percent of classes are being offered remotely and 30 percent in a hybrid fashion, with a mix of in-person and remote instruction.

The college is experiencing construction delays on its first-ever on-campus student housing, so the move-in date has been pushed back to Oct. 1.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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