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Neighbors Concerned About U Of U Parties As University Goes Online

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The University of Utah is going online for two weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19, but neighbors are worried whether parties off campus were undermining those efforts.

On Monday the university entered what it called the coronavirus circuit breaker. It’s a pause in in-person interactions on campus to slow the spread of COVID-19 as the school prepares for next week’s vice presidential debate.

“We’re really cautiously optimistic,” said university spokesperson Chris Nelson. “Our students have done a really good job. Both our message to students and the surrounding neighborhood is we’re all in this together.”

But just off campus, there are concerns that some students aren’t getting the message.

“You’ve seen the numbers and you just feel like maybe the U is doing such a great job,” said Tawnee Madlen, who lives across the street from campus. “But it’s going to happen if they don’t keep these parties under control.”

Madlen lives across the street from campus with her family. She shot video over the weekend of a party at a neighbor’s home. It shows a yard packed with people who weren’t following health guidelines. She said it was the fourth such party she has seen at a neighbor’s home since the start of the semester.

Madlen said she and her neighbors have called the police multiple times.

“They have yet to show up, and I think that’s discouraging and I think empowering for the students who are loving to party,” she said.

“No masks, just partying and undermining all the policies that are put in place to protect not only them but the people that work at the U,” Madlen added.

“I think that’s a concern we all share,” Nelson said. “The key is avoiding those big gatherings and wearing a mask.”

The university is operating with about a quarter of its school population in person this semester. It has seen 427 self-reported positive covid cases so far.

Students and staff return to in-person classes on Oct. 12.

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