Texas University Freed From $42M Dorm Construction Suit

Law360 (December 2, 2020, 7:21 PM EST) — A Texas appellate panel has dismissed a contractor’s lawsuit seeking more than $6 million from Texas Southern University for delays and extra costs it says it incurred because of the university’s actions while building a $41.5 million student housing project in 2015.

In an opinion on Tuesday, a three-justice First Court of Appeals panel in Houston sided with TSU, finding the school was protected by sovereign immunity from Pepper Lawson Horizon International Group LLC’s allegations of breach of contract and violations of the Texas Prompt Payment Act. The decision overrules a trial court’s May 2019 denial of TSU’s plea to jurisdiction….

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COVID-19 uptick halts students in 1 University of Michigan dorm from attending in-person classes

ANN ARBOR, MI -Students in the University of Michigan’s Mary Markley Hall won’t be attending in-person classes for two weeks due to an increasing number of COVID-19 cases, the university has announced.

UM is requiring students living in the dorm to observe “enhanced social distancing practices” for the next 14 days due to the increase in cases, along with the fact that a high proportion of them have not participated in mandatory testing.

A pop-up testing event last week identified 17 additional positive COVID-19 cases on the third floor of the dorm, while several results are still pending. All positive cases and close contacts had been moved or were in the process of being moved to isolation or quarantine housing if recently identified, according to a letter from UM and the Washtenaw County Health Department.

Individuals who have not been tested will receive additional communication about their failure to report to testing as required, the university said.

Overall, Mary Markley Hall has had 61 COVID-19 cases, slightly behind West Quad (63) and South Quad (73) for the most cases among UM residence halls.

UM’s Campus Health Response Committee monitors several metrics and considers mitigation measures that might require further response for reevaluating campus operations. The metrics focus on three areas — disease spread, public health capacity and health care capacity — and use specific information to prompt consideration of actions, the release states.

There are several situations that might change the university’s campus plans, including:

  • Five days of sustained test positivity over 20%
  • More than 70 new cases per million; sustained 10% positivity
  • Three consecutive days of more than 10% case increase
  • 80% projected capacity for isolation and quarantine housing within 14 days
  • One cluster with more than 100 contacts

UM has met the “more than 70 new cases per million” criteria since October. It also meets the metric of five days of sustained increases in student infections.”

Based on the test results UM received this weekend, there currently is not a cluster with more than 100 close contacts in Markley, UM Spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said.

“As noted in the dashboard narrative, we have additional testing to do in that residence hall, so this could change as we move forward this week,” Fitzgerald said. “We are reaching out directly to students who did not respond to our call for testing to make sure all Markley residents are tested.”

The university currently has 148 students in isolation housing due to a positive COVID-19 test result, with another 162 in quarantine for exposure or awaiting test results. UM currently is at 51.7% occupancy for its quarantine and isolation housing – increasing from just 22.7% a week ago.


University of Michigan’s increase in COVID-19 cases triggers review

University of Michigan publishes guidelines for responses, strategies in case of COVID-19 outbreak

Coronavirus cluster identified on 3rd floor of University of Michigan’s Mary Markley Hall

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Isolating in dorm rooms, no socializing, and online classes. The British university students living through the pandemic

By now, British students should have been enjoying their first weeks of university and all the freedom and chaos the experience typically brings. Instead, they have been battling a far different reality.

a man standing next to a bicycle: Tara Kelly, 20, is in her final year at the University of Oxford, but says the city is far different from the Oxford she left last year.

© Tara Kelly
Tara Kelly, 20, is in her final year at the University of Oxford, but says the city is far different from the Oxford she left last year.

With coronavirus cases rising, particularly in northern parts of England, many have been forced to self-isolate in student halls, unable to leave even to go food shopping. Under government guidance, updated at the end of last month, students in areas with additional restrictions aren’t even allowed to return to their family homes, in case that increases the risk of the COVID-19 infection spreading.


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The picture became bleaker on Monday, as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a three-tier system with a number of northern towns and cities facing tougher measures. However, Johnson said that universities, along with schools and retail premises, would remain open in all tiers of restrictions.

Read: ‘These pictures shame our city’: Liverpool’s mayor blasts crowds partying on eve of new COVID-19 restrictions

Universities may be open in the official sense but students are getting anything but a typical experience. Manchester’s two main universities — Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester — moved all teaching online earlier this month, with the exception of clinical, medical and laboratory-based teaching. Face-to-face teaching has also been suspended at the University of Sheffield due to surging COVID-19 infections.

But it isn’t just the universities in badly-affected northern cities, other institutions further south like the University of Oxford have also moved some lectures online.

First-year students aren’t alone in having to adapt to the new normal, with students in all years of their degrees finding they have returned to live and study in cities that have changed almost beyond recognition.

Liam Keown*, 19, a first-year student at the University of Manchester, was forced to self-isolate in his accommodation for a 10-day period after testing positive for COVID-19.

a man smiling for the camera: University of Manchester student Liam Keown was unable to leave his flat even for food.

© Liam Keown
University of Manchester student Liam Keown was unable to leave his flat even for food.

“For the last few years I have been working hours on end doing schoolwork and revising in order to get into the university I wanted to go to and to make the next step in my life; earning the independence that I’ve craved for so long.

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“However, since arriving at university this has been far from the case.

“Even before my isolation started, the opportunities to leave my accommodation were scarce as my lectures and tutorials had all been moved online and I was told that many sports club trials had been postponed. Immediately, without being in actual isolation, I felt confined to my room and kitchen, besides occasional shopping trips and gym sessions.

“If I hadn’t got on well with my new flatmates from the start, I would have

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