Potential impact and concerns of COVID-19 – The Colgate Maroon-News

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak last year, the University canceled its annual October break during the fall 2020 semester to prevent further spread of the virus. Due to the school vaccination policy, students are now allowed to travel off campus during the upcoming fall vacation between October 9 and 12. The University’s change in attitude poses many questions to both students and administration given the current state of the pandemic. . All the students will be allowed to leave campus, travel wherever they want and return without a mandatory test.

Wednesday, September 29, the reopening working group sent an email to the campus community providing information on reducing the risks associated with travel during the fall break, as well as optional pre-departure and return testing for students. The email highlighted the risks associated with travel during fall vacation and the things students can do to limit those risks to themselves and others.

“Students and employees should carefully consider their travel plans and take steps to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. We also recommend taking precautions to protect others with whom you will have close contact, especially people who may be particularly vulnerable to the disease, ”the task force wrote in its September 29 email to students. .

Optional pre-departure and return testing options will be available for students who choose to travel. However, the University Health Center says testing is not necessary for students who are not considered close contacts or who are showing symptoms. Instead, the University’s website says priority testing will go to students for whom a test is medically warranted. “Worried and healthy tests” are offered on a limited basis depending on demand.

According to reopening task force member and associate professor of biology Geoff Holm, the task force recommended these precautions to prevent students from bringing the COVID-19 virus home and spreading it once they return home. on the campus. 98% of the student body is vaccinated against the virus and is therefore protected against serious illness, according to Holm.

“We’re in a very different situation this year than we were last year,” said Holm. “The success of vaccinating the people of Colgate means that we no longer need to be in a ‘zero COVID’ mindset, but can operate in a space where we manage the infections that occur. “

Junior Miranda Hirsch noted that when she was not feeling well, the University did not have the opportunity to test for COVID-19. Rather, his case fell under the category of “worried and good” tests.

“Because I felt like I had more than a cold, I wanted to be tested for COVID-19. Eventually I was identified as positive from a Kinney’s Drug Store rapid test and forced to isolate myself, “Hirsch said.” I think it’s great that Colgate has decided to give students the option to take a test whether they want to or not. “

Currently, the University maintains the same COVID-19 policies as at the start of the year. Students started the year with the obligation to take two tests, one upon arrival and one five days later, to attend classes and events in person. After completing the arrival test, the test is now only required for unvaccinated students.

“Students with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 should not attend classes or events and should call student health services for further medical advice,” the task force wrote in the email.

The director of the health analysis team, Severin Flanigen, notes the current trends in cases on campus.

“At Colgate, cases have been steadily declining since the indoor mask mandate was in place. As of mid-September, we had a total of 93 positive student cases on campus, ”Flanigen said. “Now there are only two of us, these people are expected to leave solitary confinement on October 1.”

Many students think that the fall vacation is a necessary time away from school to relax and come home before the winter season arrives. Junior Ava Wigdor, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this year, has expressed the need for a fall break.

“I think having a long weekend will be a really good break from this hectic semester,” said Wigdor.

While most students feel safe with the upcoming fall vacation, questions and concerns remain about the possibility of bringing COVID-19 back to campus. With optional tests available upon return, the University may be able to accommodate students’ return and make their health a priority.

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