By Jon King /

Cleary University has transitioned to online learning for the remainder of the current semester.

According to a communication by Interim President Emily Barnes sent out to students and staff on Monday, almost half of the university’s students in residence halls at their Genoa Township campus are in quarantine after two students tested positive following their attendance at a recent off-campus party hosted by a student-athlete. Reportedly a COVID-positive person attended the party. That person was in close proximity with another Cleary athlete, who continued attending team events and workouts despite knowing that the first person was actively sick with COVID symptoms.

Barnes called it “irresponsible and selfish” for students who knowingly exceeded the CDC recommended gathering limits amid a pandemic. “Off-campus behaviors affect on-campus possibilities. Today, almost half of Cleary students in residence halls are in quarantine. Students who did not attend this party fear they will take the virus home to high-risk family members, and they are right to be afraid, and angry.” As a result they made the decision to suspend in-person classes two weeks earlier than originally planned, but stressed that in no way was this an end to the semester and that students will complete their courses through remote learning. However, student life activities have been suspended and all out-of-season team activities canceled. Barnes said that while this was unfortunate, the university was absolutely prepared to make the transition following the lessons that were learned during the pandemic shutdown in the spring. “Our students chose a university that can pivot quickly. We have flexible and tech-savvy faculty and a great online learning culture and environment for students.

The person responsible for hosting the party and the person who withheld information may also face suspension or expulsion for their “recklessness” following the judicial process laid out by the Student Code of Conduct. "This event is even more unfortunate because of how easy it was to avoid it. I do believe we need to live with this pandemic and we can as long as we follow the basic safety measures put in place."

Barnes concluded by imploring “every single member of the Cleary community to be responsible during this time so we can return to in-person classes, student life, and a full athletic season in January.”

The decision to transition to remote learning comes amid a dramatic rise in COVID cases across Livingston County. A release last Friday from the Livingston County Health Department stated that both case counts and the positivity rate have more than doubled locally, endangering vulnerable populations and placing in-person instruction at risk.