Gov. Polis makes plea to college students: Don’t party over Labor Day weekend

    BRIEF

    Outside the University Memorial Center at University of Colorado Boulder. (colorado.edu)

    Gov. Jared Polis praised the state’s successful slowdown of COVID-19 transmission in the state since mid-July, but he issued a strong rebuke to college students who he said “held illegal, large parties over the weekend.”

    He called the parties “disappointing, inexcusable actions of a small minority of students,” including some from fraternities at the University of Colorado Boulder.

    Gov. Jared Polis takes part in a news briefing about Colorado’s response to COVID-19 on Sept. 3 2020. (Governor Jared Polis Facebook)

    “Now is not the time to party,” Polis said. “There’ll be plenty of time to party in months and years ahead.”

    The remarks came during a Thursday news briefing that included the participation of University of Colorado President Mark Kennedy, CU Denver student David Holguin, and University of Denver student Dajah Brooks.

    Polis issued a plea to students, as well as all Coloradans, to maintain COVID-19 protections during Labor Day weekend, such as by avoiding large groups and wearing a mask. He encouraged Coloradans to enjoy Colorado’s many outdoor recreation opportunities during the three-day weekend.

    The University of Colorado Boulder has had 37 students test positive for COVID-19, including 21 on Sept. 2. University officials were alerted to some of the new cases through wastewater surveillance.

    Officials are trying to keep students from hosting large parties that could become “super-spreader” events. University policy recommends students gather in groups of no more than 10.

    While the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Safer at Home guidelines permit indoor events of up to 100 people indoors and 175 people outside, that’s contingent on 6 feet of distance between non-related people. For example, using the CDPHE’s Social Distancing Calculator, a 2,000-square-foot space where 30% of the space is filled by furniture can hold up to 10 people.

    “If you violate a public health order and the violation is connected to attending a party, you will be excluded from campus for at least two weeks and you may be suspended,” Akirah J. Bradley, vice chancellor for student affairs, said in an Aug. 27 memo to students. “Multiple violations will result in suspension, which means you’ll be automatically withdrawn from classes and barred from access to campus resources.”

    The university’s Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution met with about 35 students at eight properties that received warnings from the Boulder Police Department, according to a Sept. 3 COVID-19 update from CU Boulder.

    The university plans to work with landlords to get student contact information for four other properties that received warnings, the statement said. CU Boulder’s student conduct office is adjudicating around 30 students for noise violations.

    Colorado College, a private university in Colorado Springs, recently moved all classes online for the remainder of 2020. The school has had 10 positive cases since the beginning of August.

    Part of CU Boulder’s COVID-19 response involves monitoring wastewater from student dormitories for traces of the coronavirus. In a Sept. 2 memo, the university announced it had detected the virus in four residence halls on campus. Students were notified and asked to get saliva-based monitoring tests for COVID-19. Positive results were referred for diagnostic tests, which are more reliable.

    “We must remember that the things that we do today have consequences beyond ourselves,” said University of Colorado Denver student David Holguin, who also spoke at the briefing. The school had reported one case of COVID-19 as of Aug. 31.

    “Remember that you hold the ability to protect your community, protect your professors, your siblings, your abuela, your tío, your fellow students, their families,” Holguin said.