BYU, UVU presidents warn of additional COVID restrictions if student behavior doesn’t change

BYU students sit outside the Harold B. Lee Library on Aug. 31. BYU and UVU presidents are warning of additional COVID-19 restrictions as cases in Utah County climb and Provo and Orem move back to moderate risk. (Preston Crawley)

The presidents of BYU and UVU sent a joint letter Tuesday morning warning students against violating coronavirus restrictions.

The letter was in response to a spike in COVID cases in Utah County, which health officials said last week can be traced back to college students. BYU and UVU have reported 1,014 and 198 cases respectively as of Sept. 22. Meanwhile, Provo and Orem have been moved back to the moderate or orange restriction level of the Utah’s phased pandemic plan amid.

BYU President Kevin J Worthen and UVU President Astrid S. Tuminez said they are “greatly concerned” about the rise in cases. “This is both alarming and unacceptable.”

The pair expressed gratitude for individuals who have been compliant with safety guidelines and for the opportunity to meet in-person this semester, but they also expressed concern about the consequences of non-compliant behavior for students and Orem and Provo communities.

“Behavior must change,” they said, imploring students to stay home except for in-person classes, work, church or other essentials; to limit their social interactions to those in their household; to avoid small gatherings where masks aren’t worn or social distancing isn’t maintained; and to follow state, local and campus safety requirements.

Presidents Worthen and Tuminez said if circumstances don’t improve within two weeks, “more dramatic action will be necessary,” including a two-week quarantine, closing campuses to the public or online instruction for the rest of the semester.

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