BLOOMINGTON — Indiana University announced Thursday it is advising students living in Greek houses to reevaluate where they want to live due to the "increasingly alarming" rate of positive COVID-19 test results within the residences.
University officials said IU cannot force Greek houses to close because they are owned by housing corporations and national Greek organizations.
"IU Bloomington and its public health experts believe that many of these communal living environments (Greek houses) are not safe given the pandemic conditions and current spread of COVID-19," a statement from IU said.
Greek houses are a particularly fertile ground for the coronavirus to spread due to the high density of students, shared bathrooms and common living, sleeping and dining areas, officials said. Some houses on the Bloomington campus have experienced positivity rates of more than 50%, while dormitories have not seen a similar level of the virus.
The university is not currently considering moving to all-online classes.
Based on an increasingly alarming rate of positive test results from continued COVID-19 mitigation testing, IU and its public health experts believe Greek houses are not safe given the pandemic conditions and the current spread of COVID-19.— IU Bloomington (@IUBloomington) September 3, 2020
About 2,600 of the university's 42,000 students live in communal houses on campus, which include 40 Greek houses, along with the Evans Scholars and Christian Student Fellowship houses. The university expects national Greek organizations to work with students and families to find alternative living arrangements.
The organizations which own the Greek houses were expected to develop plans for safe living, quarantine and isolation, but IU officials said many of those plans are ineffective in keeping students healthy.
"At minimum, all organizations must follow the regulations from the Monroe County Health Department for communal living facilities," a statement from IU said.
On Wednesday, the university announced a total of 30 Greek houses were under COVID-19 quarantine after 16 additional sororities and fraternities were added to the list. There are 42 Greek organizations on the Bloomington campus.
WRTV has reached out to the IU Interfraternity Council by email for a statement and is awaiting a response.