College Students Contributing to New COVID Clusters Across New England

At least seven New England schools have reported problems so far

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Classes are now underway at many New England colleges, and problems are already starting to crop up on local campuses as students fail to abide by restrictions put in place by administrators as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Schools in Boston and throughout the region have seemed to fare better than many in other parts of U.S., but there have still been some issues reported, including several in the last few days alone. According to a New York Times database, there are now more than 700 coronavirus cases at colleges and universities across New England.

Here's a look at some of the schools where incidents have been reported so far, by state:


College of Holy Cross, Worcester: More than 20 College of the Holy Cross students have tested positive for the coronavirus after a party. A spokesperson for the college said students who hold parties will be held accountable, The Republican reported. The party was held off campus in mid-August. Holy Cross is among dozens of New England colleges welcoming students back to school this month and next. The school is hosting a remote fall semester, but some students are living on campus.

Northeastern University, Boston: Northeastern University announced Friday that 11 first-year students had been dismissed after they were found gathered in a room at the Westin Hotel in Boston earlier in the week in violation of university and public health protocols aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus. The Westin is one of several Boston hotels being used to house students at local colleges and universities due to the pandemic. Two weeks ago, Northeastern threatened to expel any students not following COVID-19 guidelines after an Instagram poll asked incoming students whether they planned to party when they arrived on campus. Official letters sent to 115 students threatened to rescind their admission if they didn't send a reply acknowledging that they would comply with the school's code of conduct.

More than 100 incoming students responded to an Instagram poll saying they planned to party on campus.

New Hampshire

University of New Hampshire, Durham: More than 10 cases of the coronavirus have been traced to a fraternity party where people did not follow public health guidelines, the president of the University of New Hampshire said over the weekend. University and state health officials said Sunday that 11 people have tested positive for the virus so far following an Aug. 29 party at the Theta Chi fraternity. In a Sunday letter to the university community, UNH President James Dean said more than 100 students and non-students attended the "reprehensible" party at 5 Strafford Ave. in Durham. "Let me be clear: this is reckless behavior and the kind of behavior that undermines our planning and will lead to us switching to a fully remote mode,'' Dean said in the letter. It wasn't the first incident reported at UNH this year. Images of a large group of students gathered around a bonfire at UNH raised eyebrows last month. Students appeared to be grouped closely together in photos of an ice cream social organized by university staff for freshman moving back to campus. Vice Provost Kenneth Holmes also sent an email out to campus encouraging people to report coronavirus-related incidents and urging them to take precautions like mask-wearing and social distancing. The email referenced an Aug. 24 off-campus party where people were not complying with coronavirus policies and three students were arrested for under-aged drinking.

After an off-campus party was busted by Durham police students at the University of New Hampshire have been issued a warning amid concerns of the coronavirus.


University of Connecticut, Storrs: UConn officials said several students were removed from their housing after violating social distancing guidelines by hosting a dormitory party last month. The disciplinary action came after a video, confirmed by UCONN officials, surfaced on social media. It showed a large gathering of people in one student’s dorm room. Loud music was playing while students held red party cups. Some students were not wearing masks. There are currently 57 coronavirus cases on campus and 14 off-campus.

Central Connecticut State, New Britain: Multiple students from Central Connecticut State University have tested positive for COVID-19 and school officials said they have connected many of the positive cases to two off-campus gatherings. School officials said 11 commuter students and one resident student/staff tested positive for COVID-19 last month. "I wanted to bring to your attention that we are seeing a slight uptick in the number of students who have tested positive for COVID-19. Though this is not unexpected during the first week of testing, it is extremely disappointing how some of these students became infected," CCSU President Zulma R. Toro said in a statement. She said that failure to wear a face mask, maintain physical distancing, and limit indoor gatherings to 25 people and outdoor gatherings to 50 may result in suspension or expulsion from the university.

Rhode Island

Providence College: Seventeen Providence College students have been suspended for violating the school’s code of conduct about the pandemic. Rev. Kenneth Sicard, the college’s president, described the students’ actions as “selfish behavior.” He added that more sanctions could be imposed by the college. “We have emphasized strongly that actions that endanger themselves and others during this pandemic will not be tolerated at Providence College,” Sicard wrote.

University of Rhode Island: A video surfaced on Sept. 6 showing a large gathering that students said was held on the University of Rhode Island's campus the night before. The video showed hundreds of students gathered across the quad. "The non-sanctioned gatherings do not represent what we are about here at URI," the university said in a statement sent to WJAR-TV. "We have seen large gatherings and parties at other campuses derail in-person classes at those schools. As a community, we do not want to see the enthusiasm of being able to come together to result in losing the opportunity of enjoying the semester together." According to the university, if a student is caught repeatedly violating COVID compliance they could be suspended and kicked off campus.


While no major issues have been reported on college campuses in Maine, officials have reported a small number of active cases of COVID-19 at University of Maine System campuses. All of the individuals are in isolation, a spokesman said. The cases involve students and employees. The cases were at the main University of Maine campus in Orono as well as University of Maine Farmington, University of Southern Maine and University of Maine School of Law.


Vermont colleges have also not reported any major issues, but officials in the state's largest city, Burlington, proposed new emergency rules for the city's bars and for gatherings to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. A handful of University of Vermont students returning to campus tested positive for the coronavirus and are in isolation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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