Bradley: COVID-19 Outbreak Stems From Small, Maskless Off-Campus Gathering

Jul 28, 2020

Bradley University said a COVID-19 outbreak among 12 students was traced back to a small, off-campus gathering where no mask-wearing or social distancing happened.

The testing and quarantining regimen included not only students attending the party, but those who were in close contact with participants, said university President Stephen Standifird.

"It’s difficult to make any conclusive statements about the current situation given the evolving nature of the pandemic. However, in this case, our process for testing, contact tracing and self quarantining appears to have helped limit the spread of the virus," he said in an email to the campus community on Monday.

One staff member also recently tested positive for the virus in an unrelated case. That staff member hasn't previously been in physical contact with other Bradley employees.

Standifird said Bradley University still plans to hold in-person classes this fall, with a remote learning option offered. Staff at high risk, living with someone at high risk, or those covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act also have other work options. The university also is encouraging non-faculty staff to continue working from home if possible.

Standifird said he will share a document outlining decision points that would lead the university to revise its fall reopening plans, or the testing or contact tracing plans.

"I understand and appreciate the emotional impact this has on our campus community. All of us at Bradley are thinking of those who have tested positive and we are committed to doing what we can to support them in their recovery," Standifird said. "I also recognize the many challenges all of you are facing during this pandemic. While we cannot control the environment in which we operate, in many ways we can control how we respond to it."

Peoria County, where Bradley University is based, was recently declared one of four counties statewide at a coronavirus "warning level" by the Illinois Department of Public Health for exceeding several target data points. The local spike is concentrated among people ages 29 or younger.

Public health officials are discouraging large gatherings, and reminding the public to use social distancing and face coverings to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.

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