COVID-19 on a Reopened Campus
Though many precautions have been implemented into daily life on campus to address the pandemic, multiple positive cases have surfaced amongst the Saint Mary’s community.
By Kamryn Sobel
With the 2021-22 school year just beginning and the community trying to get back to normalcy after a year of being online, is it possible that we are heading back in that direction? As of September 15th, and specifically within the last 14 days, there have been 11 new reported cases of COVID-19 in the Saint Mary’s community as well as 16 cases over the course of the Fall Semester so far. With an initial plan to keep COVID-19 away from campus, this virus has crept its way into the College.
Prior to the school year, students were sent an email regarding the vaccination and COVID-19 testing requirements for those planning on residing on campus or attending in-person classes. In an attempt to combat this virus, the College also requires that masks be worn in all indoor settings and to maintain physical distance if possible. Students, faculty, and staff alike who have been accepted to be exempted from the vaccination requirement are also to submit to weekly testing.
Unfortunately, with not being able to eliminate all possible risks, Saint Mary’s made a statement in the COVID-19 News & Resources that, “In cases where a student or employee fails to disclose to the College that they have tested positive, the College will have no way of knowing and communicating that information.” Even though the College has implemented many restrictions and modifications to campus life, there is still a possibility that students or employees can purposely avoid many of the mandates by both Contra Costa County Health Services and the College, leading to uncertainty of how many true cases there are on campus at this time.
Saint Mary’s College has also established a Contact Tracing Team in order to help further protect students by notifying them of exposure to prevent outbreaks and spreading the virus. The College states, “Contact Tracers will communicate with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 to determine their close contact on campus during the time they may have been infectious.”
In the classroom setting for example, although it cannot be confirmed by a source at this time, it has been rumored that there have been 3 cases alone reported in the classes of one faculty member. In regards to student reactions on the topic of how many cases there are so early in the school year, sophomore Sofia Kakleas states, “The fact that there have been 16 COVID cases in less than a month of being on campus is definitely worrisome and makes me concerned. I feel as if we need to be better informed about these cases as I have not even heard about them until now. Although I love how open the campus is compared to last year, I worry that it became too open too fast.”
According to Saint Mary’s in a recent Instagram story post, they shared that the vaccination rates include 95% of faculty, 94% of staff, 97% of undergraduate students, and 89% of graduate students. With a highly vaccinated community on campus, or herd immunity, the CDC explains, “Population immunity makes it hard for a disease to spread from person to person.” Despite the fact that the College reached this milestone, the COVID-19 virus has already infected multiple people on campus in a short period of time. Having a smaller population of students that attend the College puts into perspective how fast infection can spread.
For more information on how the College is maintaining COVID-19 and how students or employees can contribute healthy practices for themselves and the community, visit COVID-19 News & Resources on the Saint Mary’s College website.
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Ryan Ford '23,