Move-in for the fall semester began on Aug. 15, and since then, 46 students have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the university’s confirmed cases report. Of these cases, six are specified as “not in Oxford” and “not on campus,” and no hospitalizations have been reported.
Fifteen of the cases are student-athletes, and at least five members of Delta Delta Delta sorority tested positive. According to members of Delta Delta Delta who wish to remain anonymous, there are at least two instances of overlap in the student-athlete cases and the sorority cases.
The university conducted “a mass screening for student-athletes returning to campus” the week before school began, and all tested athletes were instructed by the university to quarantine until they received their test results.
While this is the only known instance of “mass” or required testing for university students, University Health Services will provide testing to any student, faculty or staff member who develops symptoms of COVID-19 or suspects that he or she has been exposed to the virus.
The university is also investigating positive cases affiliated with at least two Greek organizations on campus, according to a statement from Provost Noel Wilkin to The Daily Mississippian on Friday, Aug. 21.
“We are working to confirm the validity of those reports,” Wilkin’s statement read. “Any violations of our university COVID policies will be reported to Student Conduct. Further, if we discover that people violated the state health order to isolate when knowing that they were positive, those cases will be reported to law enforcement officials for appropriate action.”
When contacted for a comment on the situation, College Panhellenic (CPH) president Shelby D’Amico said she did “not have the information” requested and was not “required to gather it” in her role as president.
“I am also not informed of the university’s specific decisions for COVID guidelines,” she said.
Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Arthur Doctor and Delta Delta Delta chapter president Cameron Sadler were also contacted for a comment but unable to be reached before publication.
Once the university confirms the positive cases, the university will direct the affected individuals into isolation, and the university’s contact tracing process will begin. The university’s contact tracing team consists of 21 volunteers from various departments who have completed COVID-19 Contact Tracing Course from Johns Hopkins University and have been trained for HIPAA compliance. According to a release from the university, the team plans to utilize information from the Provost’s Office, classroom assignments and seating charts to trace contact with students who test positive.
To prevent further outbreaks, the university continues to encourage students to wear masks on and off campus, avoid parties and large gatherings and utilize the daily symptom tracker on its COVID-19 website.
On the first offense, students who refuse to wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines while inside university buildings will be required to pay a $150 fine, be placed on probation and receive additional training.
Upon a second offense, students will be required to pay a $500 fine, be removed from the location of the offense for the rest of the semester or four months (whichever is longer) and receive more training.
See the full list of university consequences on the university COVID-19 Student Action Response Tiers webpage.