ALLENDALE — Students at Grand Valley State University were ordered Wednesday to hunker down for two weeks due to a spike in coronavirus cases linked to the West Michigan campus.
There have been more than 600 cases of COVID-19 among students since Aug. 23 with the majority among students living off-campus, Ottawa County health officials said.
The move came a few days after a similar order was issued to students living in fraternities, sororities and seven large rental properties near Michigan State University.
The stay-in-place order for GVSU started Thursday. Students must stick to their on-campus or off-campus residence unless attending classes, exercising, getting food, seeking health care or working at an essential job.
Students cannot return to their home community unless there’s an emergency. GVSU has 23,500 students.
“GVSU student interaction with the broader community greatly increases the risk of community disease spread, which may result in serious illness or death,” said Dr. Paul Heidel, the county’s medical director.
“We need students to take the … order seriously and be vigilant to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” Heidel said.
GVSU athletes can practice sports if a doctor is present, though the health department is “strongly” discouraging it.
Nick Moran, editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, the Grand Valley Lanthorn, said students are wondering how the restrictions will be enforced.
“When you have a campus community, it’s hard to open a window and not hear music or students moving house to house, socializing at night, like you would in any other year,” Moran said.
GVSU President Philomena Mantella said in-person classes won’t change.
“The order is really focused on those areas where students congregate socially and it really kind of acknowledges that we’re not seeing the transmission in our university facilities, busing, the kinds of places that you may also look for the virus to be at levels that are high,” Mantella said.