A Michigan college is requiring students to download a phone application that tracks their location and private health data at all times in an attempt to protect them from the coronavirus.
Albion College, located in Albion, Mich., is one of the first schools in the country to tackle contact tracing. The school is working to create a “COVID-bubble” on campus, and asking students stay within the school’s 4.5-mile perimeter for the entire semester; if a student leaves campus, the app will notify the administration, and the student could be temporarily suspended.
The move comes as universities grapple with how to reopen safely amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Several schools including Harvard University have shut down their campuses entirely, while the University of California system will provide the majority of classes online with a selection of hybrid options. Other schools, such as Boston University, are resuming in-person learning with masks and social distancing guidelines alongside virtual learning supplements for those who don’t feel comfortable returning.
Albion’s reopening plan has sparked blowback from students and parents who are expressing concern about what they view as an invasion of privacy. A father of an Albion student said that he is upset that he must choose between keeping his daughter home from school or signing off on a university-sanctioned “invasion of privacy.”
“The school wants my daughter to sign a form consenting to specimen collection and lab testing,” he told the Washington Free Beacon on condition of anonymity. “I have a ton of concern with that…. Why is the state of Michigan’s contact tracing not enough?”