Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, has dismissed 11 students for violating the school's COVID-19 policies. The students, all freshmen, were caught Wednesday gathering in a room in a hotel that is housing students, and were told they are no longer part of the university community this semester, according to the university.
The students involved were part of an international experience program at the school that had been modified due to COVID-19. The cost for the one-semester program, $36,500, will not be refunded, according to The Boston Globe. They do, however, have the right to challenge their dismissal at a hearing, according to the university.
The students — and their parents — were notified of their suspension on Friday and told they had to leave the hotel within 24 hours. Before leaving, they were required to get a COVID-19 test, and anyone who tested positive would be moved into "wellness housing" at the university until they recover, it said.
"Cooperation and compliance with public health guidelines is absolutely essential," said Madeleine Estabrook, senior vice chancellor for student affairs, in a statement. "Those people who do not follow the guidelines — including wearing masks, avoiding parties and other gatherings, practicing healthy distancing, washing your hands, and getting tested — are putting everyone else at risk."
"Students who host an unsafe (no masks and without healthy distancing) gathering, social or party, either on or off-campus can expect suspension," Estabrook wrote in a letter sent to all students on August 28. "Students who attend an unsafe gathering, social or party, either on or off-campus, can expect suspension."
Northeastern students living in the hotel have also been required to attend floor meetings that go over the school's policies for social gathering, and sign off on a no-party policy.
"Testing negative for COVID-19 is not enough," Estabrook said. "We must practice all of the public health guidelines in order to keep ourselves and the community healthy. Together, we can keep each other safe, but it will require everyone's consistent cooperation."
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is urging students to stay away from parties, as hard as that can be. "What COVID wants more than anything else... is familiarization, close contact, hugging, singing — joy, to some extent," he said at a press conference this week.
CBS Boston reported Friday that Northeastern is actively testing students and faculty to prevent a "superspread." Out of more than 36,000 tests so far, there have been 20 positive cases.
Universities across the county are grappling with reopening risks amid the pandemic. A number of prominent colleges and universities have welcomed students back to their campuses, only to close again following outbreaks.
The virus is spreading at an alarming rate at the University of Alabama, where in-person teaching is still being allowed.
The university has reported a total of 1,899 positive cases since classes began on August 19, AL.com reports. Despite rising cases, the school has urged students to stay on campus, issuing a news release on Wednesday on the dangers of sending infected students home.
UA officials have said they have no set metric for ending in-person learning, according to AL.com.
"We're not looking at one number," said Dr. Ricky Friend, Dean of UA's College of Community Health Sciences, on a Wednesday video conference with reporters. "We're looking at a lot of different metrics. Science if evolving every single day and we're working very hard to get as much information as we can to make good decisions and I trust that we will use all of those metrics to make whatever decision is needed to keep campus safe."