More than 20 New York University students have been suspended for breaking the school's new coronavirus policies as colleges grapple with how to keep young adults from spreading COVID-19.
NYU said Saturday on Twitter that more than 20 students had been suspended. The school, which did not provide details about the suspensions, tweeted the update after less than a week of in-person instruction.
"Please don't be the next. Avoid parties and bars," the school said. "Wear a mask. Keep your distance."
Hundreds of young people partied Saturday night in Washington Square Park — near the school's campus in Manhattan — many of them not wearing masks, NBC New York reported.
Students at the prestigious private university were required to be tested for COVID-19 before they moved into the dorms, where they then were told to quarantine for 14 days before the start of in-person courses.
NYU's coronavirus response had already made headlines for students' social media posts about the subpar meals provided during the quarantine period.
Other U.S. colleges and universities have also struggled to adapt to the new realities of in-person learning during a pandemic. Northeastern University in Boston said Friday that it had dismissed 11 students who were "in violation of university and public health protocols that prohibit crowded gatherings."
The first-year students were among 800 in a study-abroad program who are staying in two-person rooms at a Westin Hotel. The dismissed students were asked to vacate the hotel, and their tuition fees will not be refundable, the university said.
Critics of the decision argued that the students were being punished for policies that were always likely to fail.
"Social distancing is a good practice that everyone should follow, but it's patently ridiculous to plan a pandemic strategy around college students, some of whom have been 'adults' for a matter of weeks, following mask mandates, social distancing rules & event/gathering bans 24/7," a Twitter user wrote.
Madeleine Estabrook, Northeastern's senior vice chancellor for student affairs, said in a statement that cooperation was essential.
"Those people who do not follow the guidelines — including wearing masks, avoiding parties and other gatherings, practicing healthy distancing, washing your hands, and getting tested — are putting everyone else at risk," Estabrook said.
Coronavirus outbreaks have been reported at several universities that have reopened for in-person learning in recent weeks, including the University of Notre Dame and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The thousands of positive coronavirus cases at college campuses led the nation's top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, to recommend that schools not send students home for fear of further spreading the disease nationwide.