by Gianna Hayes
I’m sure any observant student, faculty or staff member has noticed the extreme uptick in COVID cases on campus recently. It seems like every day I hear of another friend who has tested positive. With each case I hear about, I get more and more anxious — I know I’m not the only student who thinks ‘I can’t afford to miss class,’ or the only person concerned about immunocompromised and disabled people, not only on campus, but the family members of students and the greater Wooster community.
So what is the College doing? Well, it seems like they’re removing easily accessible tests from the front desk of Lowry, not offering the booster shot and not requiring students to self-report or mask. In an email sent last Friday, Jan. 26, The College of Wooster Community Health Task Force outlined guidelines for students who have tested positive and provided some details about the specific illness and the number of students who have tested positive.
Currently, we are at a positivity rate of 1.59%, and our threshold is 3%. One thing this fails to account for is the fact that students are not required to report their positive COVID test. We may be at our threshold already.
Last semester, in the fall of 2023, the student body received an email from the Wellness Center about the flu vaccines being made available for free. I was happy to see that flu vaccinations were offered, but immediately wondered, where can I get the booster? Is the College offering it, like they did in the fall of 2022? As a concerned student, I emailed the Wellness Center asking these questions and was met with radio silence. When I talked to my friends, they informed me I could go to Rite-Aid to get it if I wanted. But I was, and continue to be appalled at firstly, the lack of availability, and secondly, the lack of communication. On a campus that prides itself on “Independent Minds, Working Together,” it fails to recognize ways in which we can work together safely, keeping in mind the needs of disabled and immunocompromised folks.
Now I will shift to the campus community. What can we do? First of all, MASK. Wear your mask if you feel ill, even if you have tested negative. Wear your mask even if you don’t feel ill! Secondly, test! Please test regularly, especially if you have been exposed or know someone who has been feeling ill. There have been far too many instances recently of people whom I know are testing positive, but then being in public spaces three days later when they’re ‘feeling better’ without masking. In the email from Jan. 26, students who tested positive were asked to isolate for five full days, and could “resume normal activities as long as they have been fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication and symptoms are improving, and they have been cleared by a nurse in Wellness.”
Additionally, they emphasize that “students who resume normal activities on day six or later, must wear a KN95 or N95 mask for the balance of 11 full days around others, regardless of current mask requirement.” I implore you, if you test positive, wear your mask, isolate, communicate with your professors to find solutions and avoid extracurriculars. On a campus where the administration seems to be disinterested in protecting students from COVID, be that person who cares a little more about the community. We must hold each other accountable.