Sacred Heart University President urging students to take pandemic seriously


FAIRFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — Sacred Heart University President John Petillo sent out a warning to the student community after recent outbreaks among students.

The university released a few videos with Petillo urging students to take “the pandemic seriously.”

Sacred Heart has reported 105 positive cases over the past week alone, giving it a 1.5% positive rate, which is higher than the state’s average.

That prompted Petillo to issue the warning that studnets must help get the infection rate under control or risk going all remote.

“We need to turn the tide and get the spread of the virus under control,” he said.

The university clarified that it will not go fully remote any time soon, but still asked students and staff to continue to follow proper safety protocol, including wearing masks and practicing social distancing on campus.

“People need to be careful because if not, this school will shut down and we would be all virtual, which would suck, so we need to be careful with this,” said freshman Jake Cardinale.

“These schools are doing everything they can,” said Gary MacNamara, Executive Director of Public Safety and Government Affairs at SHU. “Here at Sacred Heart University, they went so far as quarantining some off-campus students — even an entire dorm. But with all that, they’ve seen more than a hundred positive cases in the last week. They can trace it all back to small gatherings.”

Students told News 8 being on campus is a priority.

Freshman lacrosse player Ridjkaard Victor said he wants to be ready to play when the season starts next semester. He hopes his classmates can help keep the spread down.

“Although we’re young, we still have to be adult,” he said. “It’s not normal but we have to be respectful and understand. We have to make it our new norm and just be respectful of others.”

“In my opinion, we’re not going to finish out if we’re not more careful,” added Cardinale.

The university said students are the key to making it happen.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” Petillo said in a video. “Also, we are receiving reports of on and off campus gatherings that exceed our limit of 12. Gatherings on campus where visitors from other dorms and even outside guests are in residence halls. Gatherings where social distancing has not been observed or masks are not being worn.”

“Nobody wants to go online,” MacNamara said. “We don’t have plans to go online, but he wanted to get the message across that we’re all in this together.”

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