ST. GEORGE, Utah — Dixie State University is being blamed for not doing enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus.
When more than 10,000 students returned to classrooms last week, an educator was shocked to learn she would not be told by the university if one of her students tested positive for the virus.
“Outbreaks could be happening on campus right under our noses and nobody would even know about that,” said the faculty member, who wished to remain anonymous for speaking out against the university.
While students are required to wear masks in class, she said social distancing isn’t happening.
“My classrooms are packed. If someone is sick, everyone is going to get sick,” the educator said.
The university's response plan says staff and students will only be notified after an exposure risk: When the infected student was closer than six feet while not wearing a mask for longer than 15 minutes.
"We understand people’s concerns and worries about this. There is a lot of ambiguity around this area — I can certainly understand people wanting to know,” said DSU health and wellness director Garyn Gulbranson.
Because of privacy concerns, Gulbranson said they don't have the ability to share HIPAA-protected information with anyone.
"If a student, faculty or staff reports to us, we want to keep their information private. That is their right. We want to make sure we are following that,” said Gulbranson.
The educator we spoke to understands the private nature of health records. She said she doesn’t want to know which student is sick, just that COVID-19 is in her classroom.
"It’s just scary, feeling like the university officials are just sitting alone in their nice, clean, contained offices making these policies, but really it’s the professors and students in the classrooms that are being exposed on a daily basis,” the woman said.
As of Monday, Gulbranson said the university has not had a COVID-19 case connected to classroom transmission.