The University of Rhode Island reported 181 cases of the coronavirus among students, staff and faculty in the week ending March 8. That’s about double the school’s weekly average so far this semester. 

Dean of Students Dan Graney said he’s worried that students aren’t following the rules. At the beginning of the semester, administrators learned about two large parties of about 60 students each. They’re seeing lots of smaller parties happening too.

“Everybody is tired,” Graney said. “The students in particular, this is not what they were hoping for this year. And instead of it seeming to get better, it’s seeming to get worse.” 

University officials said they’re concerned about running out of space to isolate students who test positive. In an email, they warned students that they could be fined up to $500 or suspended if they violate state rules that limit gatherings to two households. 

But some students are still willing to take the risk. Among them, senior Morgan Fay.

“I’ve just come to the point where my mental health is so low,” Fay said. “There’s no end in sight. I’m gonna see my friends. I have to do the bare minimum to make myself happy and feel a little less depressed.”

Speaking in February, Fay said she was regularly hanging out with a group of 15 friends on weekends, something she said was important to her mental health. 

In early March, she tested positive for the coronavirus. She quickly isolated and suffered just a runny nose. She’s already planning to see her friends when her 10 days are up. 

Dr. Lisa Weyandt, a psychologist and professor at URI, said students need to think about the larger community. 

“They need to follow the guidelines,” Weyandt said. “Ultimately, we’re talking about the health and safety of their lives and more importantly others that may be more susceptible to contracting the virus.” 

Weyandt said students should find ways to take care of their mental health that don’t put the health of others at risk.