Colleges that are reopening campuses this fall understand outbreaks of COVID-19 are certainly possible on school grounds and in the surrounding communities. To safeguard students against the virus, Albion College, located in Albion, Michigan, is requesting all students to download a smartphone app that tracks their location to create a "COVID-bubble."
According to The Washington Free Beacon, Albion College's COVID-bubble will require students to stay within a 4.5-mile perimeter of the school. If students violate bubble rules, such as stepping outside the bubble, the app will automatically notify school officials who could slap the violater with a "temporary suspension."
The move to track students comes as college, health experts, and government officials have been in several months of disputes about reopening for the fall semester. Many schools are opting for remote courses to mitigate the spread of the virus, though such actions will be disastrous on enrollment and school budgets.
Readers may recall a higher education bust is underway, one where the virus pandemic accelerated the trend (see: Higher Education Bust - Vermont College Goes On Auction Block With $3 Million Bid).
So far, not everyone is thrilled about Albion's reopening plan to maximize a contact tracing app. Students and parents had this to say:
A father of an Albion student said that he is upset that he must choose between keeping his daughter home from school or signing off on a university-sanctioned "invasion of privacy."
"The school wants my daughter to sign a form consenting to specimen collection and lab testing," he told the Washington Free Beacon on condition of anonymity. "I have a ton of concern with that…. Why is the state of Michigan's contact tracing not enough?"
Though students are required to remain on campus, professors and administrators are not. When asked about this potential loophole in its "COVID-bubble," the school declined to comment.
Rising senior Andrew Arszulowicz said that he is upset with both the mandatory use of the app and the manner in which students are being treated. "I feel like I am being treated like a five-year-old that cannot be trusted to follow rules," Arszulowicz told the Free Beacon. "If the school believes masks work … why are we not allowed to leave if they work? It does not make sense to me." -The Washington Free Beacon
Albion's courses will only be offered in-person, and students who reject downloading the tracing app will be deferred to the spring semester.
Does this sound Orwellian to you?