Less than a week after Syracuse University started allowing students back on campus, the school has already suspended a group of students for violating quarantine orders.
Syracuse began welcoming 400 first-year students, many of whom were from out of state, to residence halls on Sunday. The early August start would provide students enough time to adhere to New York state's mandatory quarantine order before heading to classes.
The order took effect June 25, and said anyone arriving into New York from one of the designated 34 states categorized as having "increased rates of COVID-19 transmission" is ordered to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
One student described the quarantine as "minimum-security prison."
"The university has said it will limit students' social interactions outside of their floor," according to The Daily Orange, an online newspaper run by Syracuse University students with no oversight from the university. "Students quarantining on-campus order meals directly to their rooms through an online order form and have allotted time to exercise, socialize, go outside and do laundry."
Students were also asked to sign the "Stay Safe Pledge," an agreement to "follow any new directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or New York State that become public during the semester."
The pledge requested students to maintain social distancing, wear face masks, "honestly participate in contact tracing," get a flu vaccine, limit gatherings to 25 people, and "encourage others to follow these guidelines."
"Failure to comply with these directives may result in a referral to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR) for violation of the Code of Student Conduct, which governs individual and group behavior on and off campus," the Syracuse University website read.
On Thursday, school officials announced that a group of students were suspended for "knowingly violating" New York state's quarantine mandate. Syracuse University did not reveal how many students were suspended or release the names of the students who were caught violating the mandatory quarantine. The school also did not reveal how long the suspensions would last.
Senior Associate Vice President for Communications Sarah Scalese released a statement regarding the suspensions:
"The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and the broader Syracuse community is our priority. Creating a safe campus environment is all of our responsibility, and Syracuse University will not tolerate any actions – on the part of students, faculty, or staff – that jeopardize the health of our community. Our students are expected to comply with the Code of Student Conduct, the Stay Safe Pledge and executive orders issued by the New York State Governor's Office and the Onondaga County Health Department. Students who violate these requirements will be met with appropriate sanctions. While we cannot comment on a specific case due to federal privacy laws, recently, the University has placed a group of students on interim suspension for knowingly violating quarantine orders."
This isn't the first suspension that Syracuse University has handed out during the coronavirus pandemic. On Aug. 1, the university announced that it had suspended the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity for violations of COVID-19 public health orders that happened in the spring.
"Given the severity of the global health emergency, this type of behavior was not only reckless and selfish as it put the health of our community at risk, it was also a clear violation of public health orders," Scalese said in a statement earlier this month.
The violations, which occurred during the spring semester, included ignoring social distancing guidelines, according to Syracuse.com.
"We are disappointed that members of our community ignored social distancing guidelines that are in place to protect the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and the broader Syracuse community," Scalese said.
The fraternity was prohibited from operating on the Syracuse University campus.