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Author: Sarah Last updated: Tue 06 Oct 08:45
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Beer pong... and Covid-19 explosion on campus: 120 positives at a student party check out four universities

Sanidad orders the suspension of classroom classes at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, confines the largest college and cancels all practices of Health Sciences (Medicine, Nursing, etc.) in the four universities of the province of Valencia. The four campuses bring together more than 70,000 students.

A licensed health tent on the campus of the University...
A sanitary tent Enabled on the campus of the Polytechnic University of Valencia to do mass PCR.
COVID. Health sees "risk situation" in all universities of Valencia after the outbreak that has already paralyzed UPV.

At the festival of Galileo Galilei, on the night of Saturday 26 September, there were everything but masks and inches of distance between people. At one of the tables he improvised a beer pong championship, one of his ingenious games that mix drink and fun.

You throw the ball from your side of the field and if you put it in one of the glasses... well, the opposing team has to account for the content. It can be with beer, the cheapest version, or with some stronger drink; and you can even invent the rules so that you always have to drink the same (which can be you if you strive for it).

When a week later, around 23:00 on Sunday, October 4, the emails of thousands of students from the Polytechnic University of Valencia received the official communication that the classroom classes were suspended from the next day and sine die, there was still no adjusted perception in public opinion of the impact of the "outbreak" of coronavirus infections derived from the beer pong party.

This Monday, however, quantitative and qualitative data caused a real earthquake in the university life of Valencia. The Colegio Mayor Galileo Galilei is the largest outbreak of coronavirus detected in the Valencian Community in this second wave of the pandemic.

Suspicions focused on the residential centre when Wednesday was detected in class I had a student with symptoms of Covid-19; the following day, the number of cases grew in the environment of the campus and, from there, began a study that determined the need for a mass screening among university students who had been at the party.

On Friday alone, 712 PCR tests were carried out among Polytechnic students, who were keeping the line, among those who were annoyed by being the target of looks and comments from the press, and angry because they guessed that the irresponsibility of a few would pass the bill to many colleagues.

The night of Saturday 26 was moved on the terrace of one of the most popular major schools on the campus of the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Popular doesn't mean anyone can afford it. A single room of just over 20 meters with balcony or window is 1,000 euros.

Only the privileged can pay the premium penthouse with private terrace (1,300 euros per month), but can have shared shelter with two other people for 635 euros. But at the Ibiza festival, the entrance was free, the drink appeared at a good pace and the doors of the rooms opened and closed almost like in the saloon of the dusty villages of the Wild West.

The Health Department confirmed this Monday that the results of 411 tests have ended with 120 positive. No more or less than 30%. And, what is more worrisome, the attendees at the party not only belonged to the Polytechnic campus, but also to three other universities: one public, the University of Valencia, and two other private, Cardenal Herrera-CEU and the Catholic University of Valencia.

This mixture of nationalities has a direct impact on the measures that have to be taken. First, all residents of the College have been "invited" by the authorities to confine themselves for eight days.

The Valencian government hopes that the courts will validate this administrative decision so that the confinement of schoolchildren is not something voluntary, as explained by the counsellor of health, Ana Barceló.

Confirmation by the High Court of Justice is necessary because it is a group of individuals who are not individually identified. If any student skips the lockdown, Sanidad could urge their "individual" confinement with judicial authorization.

In addition, 25,000 students are left without classes and face-to-face practices at the Polytechnic's Valencia campus. And, beyond those directly affected, all practices in all degrees related to Health Sciences, that is, from medicine to nursing, are suspended in all centres of the four universities with implantation in the province of Valencia.

These four universities bring together more than 70,000 students, who await with some concern the decisions of the board. The measure will run from 6 to 16 October. Cardinal Herrera-CEU has gone on to give online training in a group of Medicine and another veterinary.

The Governing Councils of the academic institutions concerned analyze from this Monday, one by one, the cases of their respective students to take surgical measures, going faculty by faculty. The University of Valencia, for example, has on its campus centres that border the Vera campus and the surrounding Galileo Galilei. There you could even suspend face-to-face classes for a few days.

Sanidad will coordinate a screening in classrooms where any positive is detected "when the full result of which specialities or which classrooms come from". Meanwhile, the rest of the faculties will be able to function normally.

The delegate of students of the Polytechnic, Marta Guallart, in statements to El MUNDO, admits that the curricular damage for students can be "very great" if they do not manage to normalize the practices, which are "essential" for the proper training of students and have already suffered alterations due to confinement.

When on Sunday, with these provisional data in hand, the health authorities ordered to take drastic measures, the team of the rector of the Polytechnic University did not even communicate to student representatives or prevention delegates that they were suspending face-to-face classes. There was no time. And he already kept his distance from those responsible for the residence, describing the problem as "a series of contagions" at the largest private management college located within the campus.

And it is true, Galileo Galilei is a private school built on private land, but within the campus and attached by convention to the UPV, which complicates the ability to take administrative action against the college and against the students, who formerly enjoyed leisure time in a private space. Of the 120 positives, 106 are residents of this centre and 14 students of UPV.

The rector of the Polytechnic, Francisco Mora, expressed this Monday his amazement at the fact that the management of the college did not even know about the organization of the party. At his side, the counsellor of Universities, Carolina Pascual, announced that his department has urged the Conselleria de Justicia, which is competent to direct the autonomous police, to open an investigation and study possible sanctions for "very serious" acts.

The administration is aware of "parties that should not have been held" and of non-compliance with preventive measures such as the use of masks. Health intends to adopt a protocol that will be forwarded to universities, residences and senior colleges. In a meeting with the rectors, this Monday afternoon, they have shown "very helpful"

Marta Guallart, representative of the students of the Polytechnic, prefers to be cautious in its assessment, waiting for the results and the final measures. However, he believes that it is better to "tackle the root problems" and not have to regret major damage. In the meantime, the trade unions are demanding that the management team take steps to ensure that some of the administrative staff who come to their jobs in person can stay at home teleworking.

"It wouldn't make sense that with what's going on they were making us go to class and I guess, out of fear, even if allowed, people wouldn't go." In his view, the measures taken for the return to the classroom were being "impeccable". He was taking "very much control of the situation" in the early days of class.

"We do not share or believe that what was done in Galileo should be done, that party should not have been done and we ask, please, that it should not be done again, but neither there nor anywhere," guallat says. "If not, we will not be able to return to classes with a certain normality and we have already had a very bad time during the confinement, teaching in front of a computer."

"I do not think the decision that has been taken is an illogical solution," guallart says, because we also have a couple of holidays that will allow us not to lose more class hours than strictly necessary. It is clear that it is worth more now than in the era of exams, " he says.
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