UVM plans to stay in-person despite seeing highest COVID-19 case count of semester


Kate Vanni

A testing vial sits in a makeshift distribution pipe at UVM’s COVID-19 testing site.

Despite reporting an uptick in COVID-19 cases, UVM has no plans to return to the remote model after Thanksgiving break, said Gary Derr, vice president for operations and public safety. 

UVM reported 61 new positive tests, its highest positive COVID-19 test count of the semester, following Halloween weekend, according to the Cynic COVID-19 data tracker

The University reported 42 COVID-19 cases from off-campus students, 16 from on-campus students and three cases from faculty and staff between Oct. 25 and Oct. 31, according to the Cynic COVID-19 data tracker

Still, UVM has a 100% compliance rate with its vaccine requirement, Derr said. He thinks we can feel a lot safer for that reason. 

The Vermont Department of Health reported 2,969 new cases state-wide and 594 cases in Chittenden County within the last 14 days, according to the Vermont case dashboard

Over 90% of Vermonters received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but COVID-19 cases still increase across the state, according to the COVID-19 vaccine dashboard

Ben Truman, media contact for the Vermont Department of Health, did not respond to the Cynic’s multiple requests for comment. 

“COVID loves a party,” an Oct. 29 email from UVM Forward stated. “With indoor gatherings the main vehicle for spread, it’s safest to keep events outdoors, keep the guest list small and always use your face mask indoors.” 

Holidays like Halloween tend to cause increases in COVID-19 case numbers on campus, Derr said.

The uptick in cases at UVM reflects what’s going on statewide and do not significantly differ from the most recently recorded week to the previous one, Derr said. 

“I’d say the number of positives are about the same,” he said. “But the number of people that tested was more, so that to me is a little encouraging.” 

Cases within the student body this semester initially spiked beginning the week of Oct. 11, with 60 student cases, as compared to the previous week’s seven student cases, according to the Cynic’s COVID-19 snapshot. Cases remained high in the following weeks. 

Derr said additional recommendations for the UVM student body include being mindful and selective about attending large gatherings.