TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — From Towson to College Park, there are concerns students returning to off-campus housing as the fall semester kicks off could spread the coronavirus to the wider community.

Tensions between college campuses and adjacent communities are happening in college towns across the country, but instead of neighbors being concerned about parties, they’re worried about COVID-19.

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Towson University scrapped plans for limited in-person classes after the number of positive COVID-19 cases started to climb even before classes started.

“The Thursday everyone came back, that’s when I noticed the numbers going up,” TU student Benjamin Dao said.

A university spokesperson said all of the cases were off-campus.


“We know of people who had corona because they were not social distancing and not keeping their head on straight,” senior Maddie Virgilio said.

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks said residents expressed concerns that students will spread the virus.

“A lot of my constituents are concerned when they see groups of students without masks,” he said, adding that any time there’s a large group of people there are concerns about the virus spreading.

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Towson resident Sean Mulligan chalked some of the spread among students up to their youth.

“You know, a 20-year-old, you think you’re invincible. I’d probably be doing the same thing,” he said.

In College Park, the University of Maryland has had its share of issues. The Diamondback, the student-run newspaper, reported some members in fraternity and sorority houses had to quarantine.

The university reported its positivity rate as one percent, well below the state’s 3.84 percent, but officials said 46 positive cases were attributed to student-athletes, “resulting in the temporary suspension of all athletic training activities.”

On the Eastern Shore, visitors flooded the boardwalk for the holiday weekend, Thirty minutes away, Salisbury University is now requiring everyone to get a negative test or in-person learning won’t happen.

Students like Virgilio in Towson are making the best of their final semesters despite the pandemic.

“Hanging out with usually just a small group of people, we keep our circles very close,” she said.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Ava-joye Burnett