IU Chief Health Officer Dr. Aaron Carroll said IU’s classrooms are one of the safest environments relative to other activities on campus in an ”Ask Aaron” Webinar Wednesday.
He said IU decided to remain in person because in-person instruction remains a priority for the university. Students come to IU specifically for the interaction fact-to-face classes bring, he said.
“We know that pretty much for all intents and purposes, we have achieved herd immunity,” Carroll said.
Since students are required to mask indoors and the university has high vaccination and booster rates, Carroll said he is confident students are less likely to become infected while in class. 94.9% of students, faculty and staff at IU Bloomington are vaccinated as of Jan. 6, according to IU’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Students are more likely to become infected with COVID-19 in social settings such as spending time with friends, partying or going out to eat and drink, Carroll said.
“It’s a party, it’s riding a bus together unmasked, it’s a bar, a gathering, it’s almost never in the classroom,” Carroll said. “So, that should be one of the last things we shut down, not one of the first.”
He said these first couple of weeks will be the most difficult in the semester with cases on the rise, but he said he remains hopeful the curve will flatten out as the semester progresses.
“For the next few weeks, it will be pretty hot in Indiana,” Carroll said. “Things are probably going to increase for a bit of time, hopefully peak in the next week or two and then it should start to come down.”
Carroll urges students, faculty and staff to take extra health precautions over the next few weeks. He recommends individuals continue to get vaccinated, get a booster shot, mask up and monitor their health. After this surge, cases should start to decrease again, but won’t entirely dissipate, Carroll said.