RICHMOND, Va. -- Colleges and universities all over the commonwealth are seeing students with COVID-19, and James Madison University currently has the highest number with 186 students reporting cases since Aug. 17, but Virginia Commonwealth University isn't far behind.
When Gabriel Thomas returned to VCU two weeks ago to continue pursuing her mass communications degree, she had high hopes.
"When I got here I thought everybody was going to be as serious as I was," Thomas said.
But, by week two, one of her suite mates tested positive for COVID-19.
"Her exact words were, 'I feel like I've been hit by a bus,'" Thomas said.
Thomas moved out and contacted her professor who teaches the one in person class she's taking this semester.
"I immediately told my professor, and she was like just stay home," Thomas said.
Thankfully, Thomas has not gotten sick herself.
As of Friday August 28th, there are 108 active student cases of COVID-19 at VCU, and 8 among staff.
"I think they should have done all virtual, the in-person classes could have waited," Thomas said.
And that's exactly how senior Laura Glomb feels.
"Within 48 hours of being back at VCU I was like this is the dumbest thing that they could have possibly done," Glomb said.
Two of Glomb's classes require her to come into class about 30 percent of the time.
She said there's about 30 students in those classes.
"It's nice during class, but at the beginning of class and end of class we're all walking through the same two doors," Glomb said.
She also wonders why the university sent her an email stating that students hosting parties with 10 or more people or attending them are subject to disciplinary action, "but then I'm in class with more than 10 people."
"It doesn't really make sense to have us in class. I think it would be a lot more beneficial if things were online," Glomb said.
VCU spokesperson Michael Porter said students enrolled in an in person class are expected to abide by the attendance policy for the class, but they're encouraging faculty to be flexible.
VCU is also putting together a new temporary academic rule that will encourage faculty to be flexible if a student is quarantined.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.