Only a week into on-campus learning, students have already been disciplined for hosting social gatherings that violate COVID-19 policy — and hosting or attending such a gathering could lead to anything from a warning to expulsion.
“Belmont has formally communicated this new safety protocol to the student body and deemed it a requirement,” said interim dean of students Dr. Paula Gill.
Though the university has regulations in place to limit COVID-19’s spread, Gill said students must abide by those regulations for them to be effective.
“Beyond consistent communication and reminders, Belmont must now rely on the students to live up to their commitment and refrain from behaviors that increase risk of COVID-19 presence and transmission on campus.”
Gill defined a policy-violating gathering as one “where social distance cannot be maintained and masks are not worn by everyone at all times.”
For specific guidelines, students are advised to follow the mayor’s Roadmap to Reopening Nashville or otherwise have their gatherings approved by the Metro Department of Health.
Students who test positive for the virus will be placed in quarantine as per the Return to Campus plan, and testing is available for symptomatic students, who may also be placed in quarantine.
Should a student with the virus attend or host a social gathering, the university will work with that student to identify anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19 — who then may be tested or placed in quarantine.
Gill said that the school cannot account for everything students do, but hopes students will follow the protocols.
“As Dr. Fisher has said, we cannot regulate all off-campus student behavior,” said Gill. “But hope all our students recognize the seriousness of this situation and will do the right thing.”
University President Dr. Bob Fisher echoed those sentiments in an email sent Friday morning, adding that he felt the violations so far were sufficiently dealt with.
“Until Wednesday evening we were doing very well on campus,” said Fisher. “We had a brief misunderstanding of the requirements and I think that got corrected pretty quickly.”
Gill sent out another email Friday afternoon saying the violation Fisher referenced, “an impromptu music performance including an estimated 100 students,” was the exact type behavior that may “ruin the semester for all of us.”
Despite any violations, Fisher said students’ adherence to protocol so far was “absolutely awesome,” adding that he was happy to see activity on campus again.
“It’s so good to see students back at Belmont—it’s been six months since this place has had any energy.”
Belmont now has a COVID-19 tracker that will be updated weekly as new students are found to test positive for the virus, which can be found here.
The tracker lists two positive tests administered by Health Services since Aug. 24.