OXFORD, Ohio — Despite over 1,000 COVID-19 diagnoses among its students, Miami University will resume in-person classes on campus starting Sept. 21.
The university, which has a student body of around 19,000, had delayed the start of face-to-face classes because of the ongoing pandemic. The school year started online Aug. 17; freshmen have not yet moved into on-campus housing.
Still, according to Gov. Mike DeWine, Miami students drove Butler County back into the state’s second-highest COVID-19 alert level without returning to campus. A full 83% of the 841 cases diagnosed in Butler County between Aug. 17 and Sept. 3 were associated with the university — specifically with off-campus house parties thrown and attended by upperclassmen.
Over 100 more would be diagnosed over Labor Day weekend following the implementation of a mandatory testing policy. By Tuesday, the school had reported 1,084 cases since the start of the year.
On Wednesday, university president Gregory Crawford said he had faith in students to do the right thing during the school year ahead.
“This decision was made after many lengthy discussions and consultation with public health experts,” he wrote in the university’s news release. “The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff, as well as the Oxford community, is our top priority. This decision is an expression of faith and confidence in our students and is grounded in our belief that we can successfully weather this pandemic together.”
Students must be tested for COVID-19 before they are allowed to move into campus housing, which will hold only 60% of its usual capacity.
The university will continue to offer about half of its classes online to reduce the density of people on campus at any one time.
“Throughout the semester, university leaders will continue to monitor the pandemic’s impact on campus and will continue to transparently share the number of active cases on campus,” university spokesperson Carole Johnson wrote in the news release. “Campus community members are encouraged to be diligent in their efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.“