The University of Colorado Boulder has become the state's unofficial poster child for COVID-19 since the record-breaking outbreak began in September. And CU students are not happy about it.
Among students, 86% described CU’s COVID-19 response as “poor” or “very poor” and 78% rated CU’s transparency as “poor” or “very poor” in a recent CU Independent poll.
Vayle Lafehr, a resident adviser at CU, said she is “in a constant state of fear and disgust” because of the university’s handling of COVID-19.
In a scathing opinion article published by The Colorado Sun, Lafehr said she has dealt with multiple residents who tested positive for COVID-19 and remained in the dorms for several days before being relocated to quarantine.
Because of health privacy regulations, Lafehr said RAs are not even informed when their residents contract COVID-19 unless the residents tell them directly.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say that I am both horrified and disgusted by CU mishandling positive cases in the residence halls,” Lafehr said in the article.
Lafehr said RAs have been told to sanitize rooms of COVID-19 patients without being given any personal protective equipment for over a month into the semester.
These conditions have pushed many RAs away as 31 RA positions were unfilled at the end of September, forcing current RAs to work in close contact with even more residents to make up for the loss.
“Fearing for the physical and mental health of my residents is unceasing,” Lafehr said. “My freshmen residents tell me they are scared and confused. And they should be.”
As of Tuesday, 1,527 students and 16 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
This is the single largest COVID-19 outbreak in the state since the pandemic began. Despite this, CU Boulder is returning some classes to in-person instruction Wednesday after going online-only three weeks ago.
Senior film student Steven Thai began the semester with in-person classes but switched to all remote after only a few days to limit his interactions.
Now that CU is going back to in-person classes, Thai thinks it will kill any progress made.
“They’re basically going back to square one,” Thai said. “The last time we had in-person and hybrid classes COVID-19 cases spiked and there is no way students are not throwing parties after the Boulder lockdown.”
Thai fears that the university pushing in-person classes will harm what is left of his college education by causing a complete shutdown of campus.
“I’m trying to graduate and I need to make a film at Macky (Auditorium),” Thai said. “(A campus shutdown) would mean my senior project would be postponed again.”
Senior Alexander Louie thinks CU’s decision comes down to money.
Louie said the university is trying to fix their image after becoming the epicenter of the state’s COVID-19 cases to prevent losing potential students.
“It’s ridiculous that they’re deciding to still value money over student and faculty lives,” he said.
Louie has been doing all remote classes since the semester began, saying he doesn’t trust his university to keep students safe while they learn.
“The freshmen have been saying no one’s checking up on them to see if they tested positive or negative when they’re required to attend in-person,” Louie said. “CU isn’t even requiring testing for people living off-campus that attend in-person.”
In an announcement, CU Chancellor Philip DiStefano said the return to in-person classes is a result of a decrease in new COVID-19 cases.
DiStefano said the move was supported by Boulder County Public Health which also changed its gathering orders among 18- to 22-year-olds, increasing the limit from two people to six Tuesday.
CU Boulder currently plans to switch back to fully remote learning after fall break.