Opinion: COVID Situation on Campus

As COVID cases sky-rocket on campus, many Dickinsonians are becoming anxious about our ability to contain the spread. I am among the Dickinsonians who are worried about the current number of COVID cases, but what is even more frightening to me is the lack of action on part of the administration. It seems the administration believes that COVID has disappeared and no longer poses a threat. 

The world has largely returned to normal, at least as normal as it could get, with airplanes and many public areas no longer requiring masks. We are certainly in a better place than at the beginning of the pandemic as there are vaccines widely available, and we know more about the virus now. However, even as the world mostly returns to normal, it is reckless for Dickinson to disregard the virus by taking little precautions. 

While I am grateful for the ability to be maskless and to interact freely with my peers, part of me fears that this is short-lived. In the past two weeks, I have been in close contact with at least five people who later tested positive for COVID. Dickinson simply cannot as easily adopt the current lax policies of other places in the world because it is a congregate setting–we coexist with a plethora of people.

We should have increased transparency about the COVID situation. The administration only released an email this past week, responding to the spike in cases, although students have been testing positive since school began. Close contacts are no longer notified nor tested, which could easily allow the virus to spread. 

Dickinson should also have more tests available for students, not just those who exhibit symptoms, given that some people can be asymptomatic. To obtain a COVID test, any student without symptoms would need to go to CVS, Target, or some other store which is not feasible for many reasons, the most notable being how far these are from campus. 

Finally, students with COVID should be required to isolate. Isolating in place, which is the administration lingo for the current situation, does not actually qualify as isolation if infected students are still living with their roommates, who may also contract the virus. Although the housing situation is difficult this year with Drayer being closed, the administration should at least have hotel rooms available for infected students. 

While the lack of money may affect the college’s ability to observe these precautions, we simply cannot continue longer with such careless actions. Winter is fast approaching and COVID cases are bound to increase. We need to be mindful of all members of the community, as some people have immuno-compromised family members or are immuno-compromised themselves.