Many college campuses across the United States are seeing an increase in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases as classes resume for a new semester.

According to a New York Times survey, there were at least 26,000 COVID-19 cases and 64 deaths in more than 1,500 colleges and universities in the country since the pandemic began. 

Texas A&M University reported that 500 students have tested positive for COVID-19 since Aug. 2. The University of Texas at Austin has around 483 COVID-19 cases.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville has 269 confirmed COVID-19 cases. The University of Florida has 266 confirmed cases of coronavirus disease.

Many of these cases are new infections from this month, but others may have shown up earlier in the pandemic.

With the growing positive cases of COVID-19 in universities and college campuses, some have canceled their plans for in-person classes before students arrive. 

Canceled Re-openings

Some of these universities, such as the University of Notre Dame, said it would halt in-person classes for two weeks beginning Aug. 18. 

The school has reported at least 448 COVID-19 cases inside the campus. School officials blame off-campus parties as to the cause of the surge in cases.

Notre Dame's president, Rev. John Jenkins, said that the virus is a formidable foe. He added that for the past weeks, it has been winning. 

Tallying Cases

Aside from the rising number of COVID-19 cases, there are other concerns that necessitate the enforcement of rules in campuses. 

According to reports, campus police can only do so much. There is also no provided tracking system on how colleges can tally COVID-19 cases in the university premises.

These resulted in schools making their own rules in tracking COVID-19 cases. Some of the ways universities and colleges keep track of their students' state of wellbeing are via smartphone apps monitoring location and daily check-in forms.

At Oakland Univesity, a plan to require all students to wear BioButtons was changed and strongly recommend wearing the health tracker after student complaints. A petition from Oakland students noted that many students are already hesitant.

"Masks and socially distancing are understandable... but this seems like a large overreach in terms of student and staff privacy," the petition said.

The BioButton is connected to an app on a smartphone, where it constantly measures heart rate and temperature.

The Oakland University's website said they strongly encourage students to wear a BioButton as it strengthens their broader strategy to monitor everybody's safety on the campus.

"We believe it is among the many ways we are keeping you and others safe. However, even if you don't want to wear the BioButton, there is value in carrying it with you when you are on campus because it can assist with contact tracing," the university's website was quoted in a report.

Smartphone Tracker

Students at the University of Tennessee will be required to "self-screen" for COVID-19 symptoms each day through an app before leaving their dorms.

The app will ask questions about their temperature and other symptoms and if they have been exposed to anyone known to have COVID-19.

Students and employees of Ohio State University will be required to report their temperature and health status through a mobile app before coming on campus daily. 

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