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College to use tracking device that notifies officials if students leave school's 'COVID-bubble'


Violators may be temporarily suspended

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Michigan's Albion College is requiring that students download a phone application that tracks at all times their physical locations as well as their private health data in order to battle the spread of the coronavirus, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

What are the details?

Albion — a private college — is aiming to create a "COVID-bubble" on campus for the entire semester, the Free Beacon said. And if a student breaks the 4.5-mile perimeter, the app notifies the administration, and the student could be temporarily suspended, the paper added.

But as you might imagine, this plan has students and parents complaining about privacy invasion.

"The school wants my daughter to sign a form consenting to specimen collection and lab testing," one father told the Free Beacon on the condition of anonymity. "I have a ton of concern with that. ... Why is the state of Michigan's contact tracing not enough?"

The paper added that while students are required to remain on campus, professors and administrators are not. And Albion — when asked about this disparity and potential "COVID-bubble" loophole — declined to comment, the Free Beacon said.

"I feel like I am being treated like a five-year-old that cannot be trusted to follow rules," rising senior Andrew Arszulowicz told the paper. "If the school believes masks work ... why are we not allowed to leave if they work? It does not make sense to me."

What else?

More from the Free Beacon:

Albion is planning to offer in-person learning only, and students who refuse to comply with the contact-tracing program will be forced to defer for a semester or a full school year.

Coronavirus testing will be required upon arrival to campus. It's unclear how many follow-up tests the university will mandate throughout the 14-week semester, but the results be stored on Albion's tracking app.

Returning students must also sign a form authorizing the disclosure of their test results to the county, state, or "any other governmental entity as may be required by law" — though the school told the Free Beacon that state and county officials are not collecting information from the app.

In addition to downloading the app, students must undergo a mandatory three-day quarantine after they move back to campus. They will be given a list of "approved businesses" to frequent, and must fill out an online form five days in advance if they plan to leave for "approved" activities, such as medical appointments, religious obligations, and "significant family obligations."

In addition to the possibility of receiving suspensions, students who don't comply with the guidelines will be locked out of their dorms and other on-campus buildings, the paper said, citing emails from the university it obtained.

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