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College towns like Ann Arbor are bracing for a new wave of COVID-19

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Filed under:Ann Arbor residents are worried about students’ return to the University of Michigan Sierra Imwalle, a real estate agent in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously. As students drive and fly from their hometowns back to campus, inevitably, some will carry the coronavirus with them, says Sheldon Jacobson, a professor of computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an expert in data-driven risk assessment. But most college and university reopening plans, even the best ones, are focused on their students, Jacobson says. “There is a bit of concern that all of the hard work and the sacrifices we’ve had to make will end up not being worth as much,” Imwalle told The Verge.It’s always a big event in Ann Arbor when students come back to campus in the fall, says Tom Crawford, the interim city administrator. “It has an economic impact, it has a social impact — it’s a major thing.” That’ll be even more true this year, even though Crawford is still not sure what portion of the student body will end up coming back to Ann Arbor. “Yet, at the same time, there’s no denying that Ann Arbor is what it is because of the university’s presence,” he says. Another local, Trisha York, is a nurse at Michigan Medicine, the university’s health center, and her husband has a small business in town — it depends on the students. Colleges and universities can mandate that students wear masks and take certain precautions on campus, but it’s much harder to control what they do when they head into town. At the University of Michigan, around 30,000 students live in off-campus housing. “The likely outbreak caused by the concentration of faculty, staff, and students will further strain critical community resources like ICU beds and medical personnel,” it reads.When outbreaks happen on campuses, universities and colleges seem to be ready to blame their students for breaking the rules, wrote epidemiologist Julia Marcus and psychiatrist Jessica Gold in The Atlantic. “Universities have no business reopening if they can’t provide a healthy environment for students, faculty, and staff.”Back in Ann Arbor, Crawford is in regular communication with the University of Michigan. If it wasn’t just about getting more money.”The University of Michigan’s plans for the fall semester center on the student body and on the campus environment. She expects people would be more concerned about taking care of the kids.“I could see some people feeling resentful — probably not towards the kids, although it might come out that way, but to the university for maybe not doing more to make sure it didn’t spread,” York says.

As said here by Nicole Wetsman