On Tuesday, BYU President Kevin Worthen and UVU President Astrid Tuminez issued a joint statement to students at both universities.
The email that was sent out to students came just hours before the announcement that the cities of Orem and Provo would be moving back into orange restrictions on the Utah COVID-19 health risk status.
The presidents’ statement expressed how their gratitude to have opened up in-person classes for the fall semester, but it also touched on the growing concern as COVID-19 numbers in the county continue to spike.
“This is both alarming and unacceptable,” the statement read. “We’re concerned not only for your well-being, but also for those in the local community who are affected by the trends we’ve seen in the last week.”
The presidents also urged students to stay home unless attending classes, work, church or other essential needs.
This includes limiting social gatherings within a household and avoiding those gatherings where others are not wearing masks or keeping social distance. According to the statement, those who are feeling sick are asked to stay home and if they have been exposed to the virus, are awaiting test results or have tested positive, both universities asked students to follow guidelines from state and local officials for quarantining.
The big question for both universities has been student compliance with mandates off campus, seen in dances and other social gatherings where college students have not been wearing masks or following social-distance guidelines.
In last week’s COVID-19 state briefing, Gov. Gary Herbert categorized some students’ attitudes as defiant, adding that those students have a “you can’t tell me what to do” mentality.
The statement also asked students to follow safety guidelines on campus while following all local and state guidelines off campus.
As they have in the past, the statement brought up the ultimatum students could be facing if the spread of COVID-19 is not controlled.
“If circumstances do not improve within the next two weeks, more dramatic action will be necessary,” the statement said. “This may include a two-week quarantine, closing campuses to the public or a complete retreat to all-remote instruction for the rest of the semester. Please be wise. Your individual choices will make all the difference.”
BYU’s website is currently reporting 400 active cases of COVID-19 in the campus community with a seven-day rolling average of 66 positive test results. UVU is reporting 70 COVID-19 cases in the campus community over the last seven days.