Students, staff comment on spring semester guidelines

An+individual+places+their+Covid-19+test+in+container+at+the+ARC+on+Feb.+1.+Some+students+and+staff+discuss+their+comments+and+concerns+in+regards+to+the+spring+semester+guidelines.+

Cameron Krasucki

An individual places their Covid-19 test in container at the ARC on Feb. 1. Some students and staff discuss their comments and concerns in regards to the spring semester guidelines.

By Dara Stack, Staff Writer

In wake of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, the University has recently implemented and updated a safety plan to battle COVID-19 during the return to campus for the spring semester.

Chancellor Robert Jones announced in a new email that students, faculty and staff are now required to receive only one negative on-campus test. This is different from the original additional requirement of an off-campus negative test.

Faculty, staff and students are also now required to receive the booster shot for COVID-19. The deadline to report the vaccination is still to be decided upon.

The first week of classes will still be online to allow time for testing to be done.

Last semester, Alex Ball, junior in LAS, had all online classes. He described how impersonal the experience was.

“I feel like they limit the classroom connection a lot,” Ball said.

But luckily for him, Ball’s classes this upcoming spring semester are in person.

He also commented on the University’s handling of the pandemic so far and the new standards set for the beginning of next semester.

“I think that the University has been taking the pandemic very seriously in a good way,” Ball said.

He also thinks the first week of online classes will be a good adjustment period for students returning from winter break.

Alli Salmon, recent graduate of LAS, agreed the adjustment is beneficial.

“I feel like if we didn’t go online for the first week, we would be forced to go online the following week anyway,” Salmon said. “So, I feel like by having one week for everyone to test, for anyone who’s sick to get quarantined, it will make the rest of the semester go a lot smoother.”

Related to keeping up to date with data numbers on COVID-19, Salmon mentioned the Testing Data Dashboard. The Dashboard provides helpful statistics regarding vaccination statuses and positivity rates.

Based on what she saw last semester, Salmon addressed some of her own concerns with building access.

“I kind of wish that they required instructors to check people’s building access,” she said. “I feel like it was kind of uneven last semester, like who required (access) and who didn’t.”

Salmon also expressed concern about the frequency of mandatory tests, noting that vaccinated students are not required to test regularly.

“Honestly, I also wish that they would require a test once a week or once every other week just because we know that you can get the virus even if you’re vaccinated,” Salmon said. “So, I feel like having the vaccine shouldn’t disqualify you from getting tested at least once in a while.”

Regarding the University’s new booster shot requirement, Salmon said she is happy.

“I feel like it can only help at this point,” she said.

In an email, Chantelle Thompson, director of Marketing and Communications in Student Affairs, explained that students can get the booster shot at local pharmacies before returning to school. If that is not an available option, students can use the My McKinley Portal to make an appointment upon returning to campus.

Salmon discussed the impact the pandemic has had on the well-being of students. She also acknowledged how hard it can be to stay in touch with friends but reaching out to them is a great way to positively impact mental health.

Thompson also discussed a new wellness portal for students.

“This site will help individuals decide what kind of assistance they need and how to get connected to services for mental health, wellness, access and accommodation,” she said in an email.

These resources are readily available to students and can hopefully alleviate concerns and fears during the new semester.

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