Sacred Heart University suspends 109 students for violating coronavirus safety protocols

Sacred Heart University suspended more than 100 students for violating coronavirus safety measures, officials said Tuesday, as campuses across America continue struggling to keep kids in check.

The Catholic school in Fairfield, Connecticut, has almost 10,000 undergrads and graduate students. It took action against 109 pupils this semester with suspensions of 7, 14 or 30 days. Two students have been removed from campus altogether for the rest of this term, Sacred Heart spokeswoman Deborah Noack said.

The violations were not wearing masks, failing to keep social distance, gathering in groups of more than 12 or having unauthorized guests.

Sacred Heart is operating in a hybrid model, with classes split between in-person and remote lectures — though any student has the right to go all-online.

Suspended students can still take their classes online, but cannot set foot on campus or participate in any other school activities.

Noack said she had a degree of sympathy for the suspended students.

“It’s understandable in a way, when you think about how much they’re going through and how much they’re missing the traditional college experience,” Noack told NBC News on Tuesday. “So yeah, I get it.”

But she added, “It’s not the right thing to do and there are consequences. But it’s hard to not do what you’re used to doing.”

Southern Methodist University students watch the game between their team the Mustangs and the Memphis Tigers in Dallas on Oct. 3, 2020.Tim Heitman / USA TODAY Sports

The Sacred Heart revelation came days after police moved in on the student section at a Southern Methodist University football game when the young fans didn’t wear masks or spread out. The odd scene played out late in the first half of SMU’s game agains Memphis at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas.

Some of the students remained in “other areas in the stadium where they could watch in small groups at safe distances” but “many did leave,” according to an SMU statement.

“While no one at SMU wants to see fans leave, it is important to preserve our privilege to host games with fans in attendance during a pandemic,” the statement continued.

The 4-0 and 18th-ranked Mustangs next play at home on Oct. 24 against No. 11 Cincinnati.

“Our hope is that students can return for the next game, and we are working on plans that would allow them to safely do so,” SMU Senior Associate Athletic Director Brad Sutton said in a statement to NBC News on Tuesday.

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