As pandemic infections increase, colleges stay open

Is playing the odds against a pandemic worth the risk?

James Madison University in Harrisonburg gave up with its experiment in terror, also known as trying to start school person-to- person education after students ignored safety rules, hundreds got sick and now thousands started heading home over the Labor Day weekend.

Virginia Tech has suffered many infections of the COVID-19 Coronavirus too, has suspended a few and closed the doors of some fraternity and sorority houses but stubbornly maintains it will keep classes open and the campus occupied.

In Tech’s case, many have wondered if the push to keep school open has more to do with playing football than educating students. The football coach at JMU tried to schedule non-conference games after the conference that includes their school pulled the plug on its season but university leaders stepped in and said “enough” and shut the program down for the fall.

In a study of conditions at campuses across the country, The New York Times said students with confirmed or possible infections say their college room are filthy, food rations are meager, procedures are chaotic and there is minimal monitoring by universities.

At the University of North Carolina, student Brianna Hayes tested positive and was moved to an isolation dorm with no university staff to help sick students and she had to trek u and down several flights of stairs to move bedding and belongings because her dorm had no elevator.

During her week in isolation, no one from the university came to check on her or her condition, Hayes told the newspaper.

“I felt like everyone was only interested in how I was affecting others, like who I came in contact with, and then I was just left to be sick,” she said.

Justin Fuente, the coach at Tech, is proceeding with an opening game against Virginia at Lane Stadium after the original season opener was delayed after that opponent suffered too many pandemic infections.

Tech keeps wailing about how much money their football program is losing because of the pandemic. Yes, it does cost a lot and when games and schedules are cancelled, television rights and other big-money revenue streams dry up but big-name college sports has little to do with education.

Many college athletes at schools like Tech leave without graduating, choosing to go into pro-football drafts where the salaries amount to millions.

The schools spend far more to support college athletes than they do for those who attend just to try and obtain an education.

Notes the Delta Cost Project at the American Institute for Research:

  • Athletic departments spend far more per athlete than institutions spend to educate the average student—typically three to six times as much; among Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) institutions, median athletic spending was nearly $92,000 per athlete in 2010, while median academic spending per full-time equivalent (FTE) student was less than $14,000 in these same universities.
  • Athletic costs increased at least twice as fast as academic spending, on a per-capita basis across each of the three Division I subdivisions.
  • Although academic resources were strained after the recent recession, only the FBS reined in escalating athletic spending per athlete in 2010; nevertheless, athletic subsidies per athlete continued to increase in all subdivisions despite these financial constraints.Ÿ
  • Very few Division I athletic departments are self-funded; instead, most programs rely on athletic subsidies from institutions and students. However, the largest per-athlete subsidies are in those subdivisions with the lowest spending per athlete. Without access to other large revenue streams, these programs have increasingly turned to their institutions to finance additional athletic spending.

Some say keeping schools like Tech is more about money than education or health issues.

While student athletes often appear healthy enough to not suffer serious issues from a COVID-19 infection, health officials point to an increase if cardiovascular problems from athletes who have otherwise “recovered” from the virus.

Cardiovascular exert Jay Schneider says he and others in the field are concerned about the “nascent, growing body of evidence about how COVID-19 affects the heart.”

The Washington Post reports:

Research raises the possibility that athletes who recover from COVID-19 may face dire or lasting heart complications, and medical experts have urged cardiac screening for athletes returning to play after contracting the virus. Two high-level athletes — including the projected Opening Day starter for the Boston Red Sox — have reported heart issues in the wake of recovery from COVID-19.

Thousands of high school, college and professional athletes are returning to play, and inevitably some will contract the virus. Guarding against the possible effects the disease has on the heart will be crucial, and maybe even lifesaving.

Stanford University infectious disease doctor Dean Winslow cites research that show at least 20 percent of people who recover from the virus show cardiac abnormalities.

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