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Coronavirus US: Over 6,300 cases linked to colleges

More than 6,300 coronavirus cases have been linked to US colleges so far throughout the pandemic as the rise in COVID-19 deaths and infections continues to spur a debate over the reopening of schools in the coming weeks.

A New York Times survey of colleges has revealed there have been 6,300 confirmed cases at 270 campuses since the first positive test was confirmed in the US six months ago. 

Colleges with the most confirmed cases are in the states of Texas, Florida, Georgia and Washington.  

According to the survey, the University of Texas at Austin has had the most cases with 449 positive tests. 

University of Central Florida in Orlando followed with 438 infections. University of Georgia in Athens has had 390 cases, University of Washington in Seattle has 249, University of Florida in Gainesville has 217 and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas has 207.  

There is currently no national database or reporting methods for tracking positive cases linked to colleges and, while the figures are already high, the data is likely to be an undercount.  

The survey was sent out to colleges that are either four-year public schools, members of the Association of American Universities or ones that compete in Division I sports.

Hundreds of colleges did not respond to the survey.

The data also does not indicate when the positive tests were confirmed, which means it could have occurred early in the pandemic before schools were closed or more recently while students and teachers have been away from campuses. 

It comes as an increasing number of colleges have changed course and opted for online classes for the new academic year as the number of coronavirus cases and deaths surge in some states. 

Nearly two-thirds of colleges had been planning earlier this year on in-person classes, according the Chronicle of Higher Education, which has been tracking plans. 

But as of Tuesday, only 49 percent said they were still on board with opening their campuses. 

A third of colleges are now planning for a mix of online and in-person classes and 13 percent are only offering virtual classes.

Harvard, California State University and George Washington University in DC are among those to cancel in-person classes. 

Miami University in Ohio has delayed in-person classes until at least September 21 and West Virginia University will commence classes again on August 21. 

Other colleges, like the University of California at Berkeley, haven’t yet committed to whether they’ll offer in-person classes and will instead start off the semester online. 

In the hotspot state of Florida, some universities are pushing ahead with socially distanced in person classes. 

The University of South Florida will commence classes on August 24 with some face-to-face courses.

The University of Tampa’s fall semester, which will begin August 26, will feature a mix of in-person and online classes. 

It will be the same for the University of Florida, which will start August 31, and Florida State University, which will start on August 24.

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