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Some Georgia universities urging COVID positive students to go home; health officials disagree.

UGA and Georgia Tech urge student who test positive for COVID to leave immediately and go home if they can.

ATHENS, Ga. — Some Georgia college students and their parents received news ahead of Labor Day weekend; if a student tests positive for COVID-19, they should go home.

The University of Georgia and Georgia Tech sent letters to students and parents urging caution over the holiday weekend, while also letting students know they're encouraged to go home if they test positive. 

The letter states "UGA’s Student Care and Outreach will engage with all students who require isolation and will assist them with support based on their individual circumstances."

The letters come days after UGA saw a spike in COVID cases and some professors called for the campus to close

Some students, like Zach Morin, believe it's better to stay on campus.

“All of my classes have an online option, so if I ever had it, I could do them all online and just stay in my dorm," said the freshman. 

Morin thinks UGA is handling COVID as best as they can; making sure students are safe, taking measures to prevent the spread, and holding as many classes virtually as possible. 

RELATED: UGA professors call for college to go fully virtual after COVID-19 surge

UGA offers isolation housing for students who test positive; nearly 500 dedicated rooms on campus and in the local community where students may stay in isolation or quarantine if they are showing symptoms of, have tested positive for, or have come in close contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19.

Morin believes this is a good practice, but worries about the campus closing or sending clusters of students home.

"Once it is open and people are there and spreading it, it doesn’t make sense to send it across the nation," Morin said. “For me personally, I actually live with my grandpa who is 85 years old” 

The CDC and Dr. Anthony Fauci also strongly advise against sending a positive student home. 

"It's the worst thing you could do," Dr. Fauci said on Wednesday on NBC's "TODAY" show. "When you send them home, particularly when you're dealing with a university where people come from multiple different locations, you could be seeding the different places with infection.”

UGA Sophomore Luke Ballard also thinks it’s safer for students to self-isolate on campus. 

Ballard explained, “Campus reopened. They made their bed, they need to lie in it. And as bad as that sounds, you can't have us all come back, infect each other, and then send us home to our parents. That seems selfish.”

Again, UGA does offer isolation housing for students who can't return home. 

However, with more than 800 cases reported on the campus in the last week, leaving some students worried the Labor Day weekend could bring more cases- and force more students to go home. 

RELATED: Georgia colleges get 'incomplete' on tracking COVID-19 cases

"I feel like most of us are being really safe. Some definitely aren't and that's unfortunate because it's putting a lot of us in jeopardy and it's putting us at the risk of having to be sent home," said Ballard.

Morin added there's a misconception that students are not taking the virus seriously. 

"We're socially starved. 18 to 20-year-olds, and we stay inside and wear masks, even outside. And when we do have small groups of people, everyone is wearing masks and taking this seriously. So, it's unfair to paint us as not taking this seriously. But, I do think if a student is infectious and tests positive, and live locally and can go home. They should. But, we can also stay in our dorms and I don't think the campus should send everyone home if they're positive or are exposed to someone who is positive."

Georgia Tech also gave the same directive. 

It's unclear if all University Systems of Georgia campuses are giving the same advice to students. UGA has not commented on whether they plan to keep their directive the same or change it given the recent urging from health officials. 


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