College Park residents brace for the return of UMD students

Christy Dollymore has lived in Faculty Park for 20 years, and the College of Maryland and its college students have all the time been part of her life within the metropolis.

Usually, it’s enjoyable when summer time ends and college students return to campus, she stated. Locals will head to shops within the space only for the “leisure issue.”

“You go to the grocery retailer and the children are hysterical,” she stated. “The women have all of the greens, and the boys have each bag of Cheetos within the retailer.”

However this August is totally different. In Prince George’s County, greater than 700 folks have died from the novel coronavirus. Hundreds extra have been contaminated. And with the inhabitants increase that may include campus reopening, many Faculty Park residents know what’s in all probability in retailer: COVID-19 circumstances of their group will rise.

It’s a actuality that scares Dollymore.

“My daughter is recovering from most cancers. I don’t need her to catch it and die. My husband virtually died of influenza A final 12 months. I don’t need him to catch it and die. I’m a Kind 2 diabetic, and I’m 61 years outdated. I don’t wish to get it and die,” she stated. “The state of Maryland doesn’t appear to care about that, nor do they care about how many individuals are going to be a statistic.”

[Here’s how UMD will track the spread of COVID-19 on campus]

On Aug. 10, college President Darryll Pines announced in-person undergraduate instruction could be delayed till Sept. 14, citing the county’s excessive positivity price. Transfer-in, nonetheless, continues to be taking place, and college students are starting to reach on the campus.

The college is taking precautions to reduce and track the unfold of the virus, together with requiring college students to get examined earlier than and after they arrive on campus. In line with the college’s COVID-19 dashboard, the positivity price for university-administered assessments carried out within the week of Aug. 16 was 0.1 p.c, a marked distinction from the county’s most not too long ago reported positivity price of 5.2 p.c.

Nonetheless, considerations that circumstances will multiply as college students return persist. The College of North Carolina at Chapel Hill additionally had a low positivity price simply earlier than its campus opened. In line with its scholar paper, The Each day Tar Heel, the college’s COVID-19 positivity price was 2.82 p.c the week earlier than in-person lessons started. The subsequent week, it jumped to 13.6 p.c. The varsity has since pivoted to fully digital undergraduate studying.

As co-president of the Berwyn District Civic Affiliation, Karyn Keating stated she has heard questions from her group concerning the precautions that might be taken when college students return and the way the college will deal with outbreaks. She’s particularly anxious concerning the college students who’re leaving house for the primary time.

“Now they’re on their very own and so they’re impartial, and so they’re gonna begin doing regardless of the heck they really feel like doing,” she stated. “Then they’re gonna begin getting sick.”

Mary Prepare dinner, the president of the North Faculty Park Neighborhood Affiliation, is avoiding shops college students frequent. As an alternative, she’s been purchasing at MOM’s Natural Market and the Greenbelt Co-op Grocery store, which has maintained particular hours on sure days for immunocompromised and older folks.

“I don’t suppose a lot of [the students], not all of them, are actually delicate to the truth that they could not get COVID-19 themselves, however they might simply go it on to others,” she stated.

[Students petition UMD to lower tuition and fees, citing online classes]

Optimistic circumstances — and pivots to all digital studying — at different universities have been “measurably linked” to attending massive events and gatherings, Pines reminded college students in a campuswide electronic mail Thursday.

“We, as a group, will comply with the same destiny if everybody doesn’t abide by the County Government’s and Governor’s strict orders that prohibit such gatherings,” he wrote.

Earlier this month, Prince George’s County Government Angela Alsobrooks introduced additional restrictions on social gatherings. Now, gatherings within the county — together with home events at non-public properties — might be restricted to 50 folks, or one individual or household unit per 200 sq. toes. Violators might face a $5,000 high-quality, as much as a 12 months in jail or each. County and college police, together with the county well being division, might be charged with implementing the restrictions.

Prepare dinner hopes native authorities will step up and crack down on coverage violations as college students filter again into the world. The college, Keating stated, additionally has the “very critical” duty of constructing positive college students comply with procedures meant to suppress the unfold of the virus.

Faculty Park resident David Dorsch isn’t too involved about college students’ return. He has lived within the metropolis for 45 years and infrequently rents rooms to college students at this college. He anticipates that they’ll take the mandatory precautions to maintain themselves and others protected.

“You bought to actually put on masks on a regular basis, steer clear of different folks, that form of factor, which I do,” Dorsch stated. “We’ve all the time had college students right here, and so they must handle themselves.”

Dollymore, nonetheless, is anxious. There are older folks in the neighborhood who want defending, she stated, in addition to immunocompromised folks. However she additionally is aware of her new neighbors are coming into city with their very own apprehension.

“I imagine that they’re simply as scared as I’m,” she stated.

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