In March 2020, the state of Georgia was thrust into a lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. VSU closed campus and sent students home to continue their semester at a distance. What followed was a new normal of Zoom calls, social distancing and mask protocols.
A little over a year into the pandemic, VSU has implemented new protocols in order to keep their students safe and campus doors open. Masks are required on campus, social distancing has designated seating in classrooms, capacity limits are enforced for both events and classes and online learning is more accessible than ever. While it may seem like VSU is doing everything possible to keep the threat of exposure to a minimum, VSU still faces an uncontrollable factor of the people themselves.
While VSU has encouraged students and staff members to practice the recommended Center of Disease Control guidelines in order to protect themselves, according to VSU COVID-19 statistics as of March 19, three students and have either self-reported positive COVID-19 tests or have received positive COVID-19 tests. There have been no employees that self-reported a positive COVID-19 test as of March 19.
According to an article by Francie Diep in the Chronicle, off-campus social gatherings are the primary cause of COVID-19 for colleges. As protected as a classroom may be, colleges have no way to regulate student activities outside of campus.
“It was outside of campus, during people’s off hours and in their homes, that things got dicey.” Diep said. “For example, a CDC investigation of an outbreak among soccer players at an unnamed university in Chicago found that while the students always wore masks during training, they also attended small parties and visited one another’s apartments. During those events, they wore masks less than 10 percent of the time.”
VSU’s decision to reopen campus and encourage the participation of students in campus events all hinge on students maintaining responsibility outside of school. The question of whether VSU’s decision was the best for the students is nearly impossible to answer. There was no precedent for this kind of situation, no game plan, no rulebook.
The reopening of campus this semester and allowing face-to-face learning as well as in person events has impacted students, but not all feel negatively about the school’s decision.
“I personally feel safe at VSU because of the protocols in place,” Sophomore Haley Boyd said.“On campus and in-person classes feel fine to me because of all the things that are set in place.”
There’s a responsibility to remain vigilant and safe seems to fall just as heavily on students off campus as it does on administrators on campus since no one knows when the pandemic will end. Blazers are encouraged to follow the CDC guidelines off campus so that VSU can continue to be a place for safe and consistent learning.
Story by Alora Bethay, Sport Editor Assistant. Photo courtesy of The Spectator.