Colleges Need to Follow Guidance for Opening in the Midst of a Pandemic

By Emily O’Neil ’21  

Colleges have taken differing approaches to their reopening and public health safety plans within campuses – which makes sense as each college is set up differently, are different sizes, have different numbers of students attending and living at the university, and other unique attributes; however, many colleges have not taken the proper precautions to help support student’s safety.   

“A New York Times survey of more than 1,700 American colleges and universities — including every four-year public institution and every private college that competes in N.C.A.A. sports — has revealed more than 178,000 cases and at least 70 deaths since the pandemic began,” according to the latest numbers (October 8, 2000) from the New York Times. 

The Coronavirus is spreading through college campuses with frightening speed with the biggest spread areas being at sororities, fraternities, and off-campus parties.  

The New York Times has linked at least 251 cases of the virus to fraternities and sororities around the country, as bars and sidewalks of college towns have been packed with students celebrating their return to campus rituals, “At least 165 of the 290 cases at the University of Washington’s Seattle campus have been associated with its Greek Row,” as stated in an New York Times article. 

Even before the pandemic, fraternities and sororities have been semiautonomous areas with limited university interference, as such faulting individual students for partying, which is what to be expected of college students, rather than promoting and creating a useable public health plan seems to not be the smartest strategy nor one that is effective as a multitude of colleges have consequently shut down since reopening this fall.  

Once certain colleges started to report an influx of cases, many would then announce a two-week quarantine, or stay-in-place period, to try and mitigate the further spread of Covid-19 within the campus. Now while this is a commendable action, colleges should then possibly improve or update their public health plans — if necessary. Colleges enacting quarantines on campuses when there are increases in cases is possibly the best course of action to take, as most are trying to avoid a complete shutdown of their campus.  

However, some colleges are not reporting their cases or reporting them correctly, with some not testing students and faculty so they will not know if anyone tests positive for Coronavirus. Some colleges, also, are not taking enough precautionary measures to ensure the safety of their students and staff – a reason for many of the college shutdowns already apparent this fall.  

The risk of not reporting cases or informing others of cases is that Covid-19 will continue to spread throughout university campuses. Colleges that implement lockdowns as soon as they have an outbreak – are smart. While it is very difficult to stop college students from partying, there should be some sort of repercussions or precautions in place to help combat the spread of coronavirus. 

Those colleges that had to shut down almost immediately after reopening were not prepared, like others were, or did not act fast enough – something that continues to be vitally important during this ongoing public health crisis.  

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