Evanston, IL — Many colleges across the U.S. have experienced a visible surge in the COVID-19 positivity rate since mid-April.
This includes Georgia State University, Northwestern University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and University of Southern California, based on their COVID-19 dashboards.
The recent relaxation of the mask mandate and a rise in the number of students participating in spring activities are likely to be the primary causes of the uptick.
Northwestern no longer requires students to wear masks in classrooms, libraries, dining halls and other public areas as of March 29, the start of the spring quarter. Students, athletes and members of organizations began to appear in public without masks at school plays, sporting events and other gatherings.
Fusion Dance Company and Refresh Dance Crew are the two biggest dance teams at Northwestern. On April 8-9, the company held three shows with more than 800 audiences in total. All performers were maskless, as were majority of the audience.
Many people in the dance community were hit by the virus shortly after the events. To avoid further member loss, Refresh had to bring back the mask mandate for their own spring shows on April 29-30. Some performers were unable to perform because of their lasting COVID-19 symptoms.
Meanwhile, as most college admission offers were released by the end of March, many schools held Admitted Students Day on campuses shortly thereafter.
Amanda Weaver tweeted after attending an Admitted Students Day event: “About 1.5 hrs north of the city. Almost NO ONE was masked.”
The ongoing risk of the virus may interrupt people’s travel plans, especially for those international students who are going back to their home countries now that the summer break is here.
Ika Qiao, an international third-year student at Northwestern, has an internship in Germany. She also plans to go back to China for the rest of the break. Since both countries have different entry policies regarding COVID-19, she has been restricting herself from going to social gatherings to avoid covid exposure as much as possible.
“I may be one of those who are less chill about it,” said Qiao. “That's too much of a risk.”