Coronavirus cases are booming on college campuses that had hopes to be entirely in person, causing a majority of them to revert back to online learning. Students and faculty alike have expressed concerns for how the schools have been handling the cases, leading to even further exposure and danger for those that are required to interact with so many people every day. However, are these cases caused by the carefully monitored in person classes? Most often, no. These outbreaks are often tied back to unauthorized, off-campus gatherings of students that ignore the guidelines of the university and the areas they are located.
How can students and faculty keep themselves safe?
It is not hard to see that testing has a huge impact in every single school environment. Before a student is allowed to come to class in person, and a teacher is allowed to teach in person, if they are tested, then it will be known whether or not they are carrying the virus. With testing, the number of cases can be kept track of, and those who are sick can find out, and therefore, self-isolate for the required time period. If the school is going to do in person classes, regular testing is a good way to decrease the number of cases that are in that environment. If those that test positive stay home, there would be less cases overall.
One of the most spoken about examples of how to keep faculty and students safe is to conduct all learning and classes online. With online courses, as we have seen throughout this pandemic, especially back in the spring, when things were completely shut down, the risk is nothing compared to what it is when students get back together in classroom and social settings. In an article from the New York Times, over 250 cases have been linked back to environments such as fraternities, sororities, and parties in universities all over the country.
The most concerning part of these outbreaks is how clear of a light they shine on how little some people choose to follow regulations and mandates, if at all. Such mandates and regulations are put in place in order to keep people safe, often following the most recent research. It can be hard to regulate that individuals follow such rules, especially when they are off campus, and this is responsible for a lot of these outbreaks. Amy Harmon from New York Times writes that “The basic features of daily life in sororities and fraternities supersize the risk of spreading the virus.” The article also gives examples of several large universities that have had to switch to online courses after a short amount of time of in person courses in order to control outbreaks. Notre Dame, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Oklahoma State University are only a few of these universities, but there are more all over the country.
The best way to keep faculty and students safe, is to follow the rules and regulations designed to do so, and just be careful. Each individual needs to take precautions when going out and in social settings to keep not only themselves safe, but also those around them. Universities “are hoping a host of new rules and adaptations can keep the coronavirus at bay. They are requiring masks, mandating testing and threatening students and campus groups with penalties for partying. Ohio State University said this week that it had suspended 228 students for virus-related violations.” These kinds of measures taken can allow in person classes to stay much safer for those involved.
What to Do If Everyone Is Sent Home Again?
This past spring, the entire world got a taste of what it is like to be in complete lockdown, with countries globally enforcing quarantine and social distancing in order to fight these pandemics. School starting back up this fall has been viewed by some as a welcome sign of returning to some sort of normal. What happens if everyone ends up being sent back to online school and work if massive outbreak occurs?
The best we can do is be prepared for the possibility and try to keep ourselves and those around us safe.