As COVID-19 outbreaks crop up at college campuses across the country, some schools are reverting to online classes and, in some cases, even sending students back home. Dr. Anthony Fauci's strongly worded advice to schools on that latter move: Don't do it, per NBC News. "It's the worst thing you could do," he told Today on Wednesday. That's because students typically come from many different parts of the US, and by sending them back home, "you could be seeding the different places with infection," the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says, in what the Denver Channel notes was his first public appearance since having surgery on his vocal cords on Aug. 20.
Asymptomatic students are especially worrisome, Fauci adds, as they may go home not thinking they're infected, possibly spreading the disease inadvertently to family or other community members. What the infectious disease expert thinks schools should do instead is set up a dedicated dorm or other area where students who are found to have COVID-19 can be quarantined. Not everyone agrees in full: NYU Langone Health bioethics professor Art Caplan tells NBC that parents may better be able to maintain control on where their kids go, and that keeping students on campus also puts college support staff, like cafeteria workers, at risk. At any rate, that college outbreaks are happening isn't a big surprise to Caplan. "The college housing experience was not built for plagues," he says. "They're going to visit each other. ... They're going to sneak off and have a party. This is what they do." (More coronavirus stories.)