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Public Health charge to University of Dayton students

Public Health charge to University of Dayton students

Public Health - Dayton and Montgomery County Masthead

Sept. 4, 2020

Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County is responsible for controlling the spread of COVID-19 disease in our community. Since January of this year, we have responded to this public health emergency in conjunction with other health departments, hospitals, public safety forces, city and county officials, schools and universities and numerous other community organizations.

Our guiding principle was to aid, protect and support each other. Together, we made difficult decisions designed to protect the health and safety of our citizens and visitors. We made these decisions despite personal and professional sacrifices, economic hardships, lost jobs, business losses and closures, restrictions on citizen movement, and enforced separations such as the closure of nursing homes to visitors. Our community did the “right thing in all circumstances.”

This included the University of Dayton’s Leadership Team and Path Forward Task Force. To ensure safe return to campus, students were issued directives on the use of masks, social distancing, limitations on group gatherings, hand washing and off-campus activity.

University of Dayton Administration, faculty and staff did their part. It is now time for all students to do their part.

A review of your university’s mission statement informs us that “The University of Dayton has a mission of leadership and service in community.”

Lead…Be a beacon for the world              Serve…Put others first, always

Unfortunately, citizen complaints and direct observation by Public Health personnel demonstrate that some students are not meeting this expectation and have ignored the University’s guidance. Those behaviors have placed the wider Dayton and Montgomery County community at greater risk.

Our community was making great progress in controlling the spread of the virus and transitioned to a lower risk level in the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. In the past two weeks, however, the outbreak at the University of Dayton has reversed that trend, elevating Montgomery County to having one of the highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita among all Ohio counties. The outbreak at the University of Dayton has become the largest outbreak in Montgomery County. University of Dayton cases are now equal to half of the total of all cases combined in the other 60 outbreaks in Montgomery County since April.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, racial minorities and lower socioeconomic groups have been disproportionately affected. Failure to comply with the masking and social distancing directives increases community spread and demonstrates disregard for our most vulnerable groups.

Public Health considers the University of Dayton outbreak as a major threat to the public’s health and the well-being of our citizens.

A Call to Action 

The University of Dayton outbreak has implications beyond the campus footprint. It potentially subjects us to greater restrictions on the rest of our population, mandated business closures and stay at home orders if the outbreak worsens. No one wants to return to those previous conditions.

Due to the sustained increase in cases developing at the University of Dayton over the past two weeks, the Campus Status is at 4 – RED – WARNING until September 14. Expectations for student behavior and actions during this period have been clearly articulated by the University. No students should leave campus unless for approved educational reasons, employment or for essentials such as groceries and medicationsCommuter students are advised that they should stay at home at least until September 14.

Compliance with the directives currently in place should result in a decrease in cases. Public Health is working with the university’s Leadership Team and Path Forward Task Force to closely monitor the situation and is providing updates to the Ohio Department of Health and the Governor’s Office.

If the situation does not improve by September 14, Public Health will advise the University of Dayton to continue the current remote learning mode for the semester. This action will be necessary to protect our community.

The University of Dayton and Montgomery County would not be in this situation if all students had complied with the University’s plan for returning to campus. University of Dayton students have a long history of service and support to our community. Now is the time to honor that tradition so that Montgomery County can continue to be a healthy, safe and thriving community.

Jeffrey A. Cooper
Health Commissioner