The first three weeks of second semester have been nothing if not eventful and chaotic. The University saw an unprecedented rise in positive COVID-19 cases right off the bat, which continue to threaten our place on campus this semester. Although we’ve seen a decrease in numbers in the recent days, there is still improvement that must be made. 

The University communicated with the student body on Friday, February 5th to outline a two-week directive, explaining to students’ further precautions they can take and some newly implemented regulations to slow the spread. 

The University asked students to stay within their residence halls as much as possible, with the exception of attending in person class and meals. Although study spaces and gyms are remaining open, they strongly encouraged students to try to limit their time outside of their dorms. Additionally, they asked students to avoid going off campus except for essential reasons, and students are no longer allowed to enter residence halls other than their own. 

Over the next two weeks the University hopes to see improvement, so as to avoid having to send students home. They have told students what we can do, so now it is up to us to carry out the asks of the administration and do our part to slow the spread. As it stands on February 9, there are 482 active cases, and Isolation/Quarantine capacity is at about 50%.

Another result of the sudden spike in cases, includes University having to quickly rearrange quarantine locations; the Inn and two campus dorms are now all reserved for COVID positive students, and the University is now renting out the Double Tree Suites for students who were contact traced and tested negative to quarantine for 14 days following their last exposure to COVID. The University is doing their best to make sure students in quarantine are as comfortable as possible under the circumstances, by, for example, providing meals and access to health services. 

Although there has been a downward trend in COVID cases for the last few days, there is still much progress to be made if we wish to stay on campus. We completely understand that one of the best and most important parts of being back on campus is getting to spend time with friends. However, for now we need to all attempt to socialize in a cautious, safe manner if we want to stay on campus at all. The University explained that while there is no one single cause of the COVID spike, it is probably that a series of social gatherings, even small ones amongst friends, are a significant cause. 

It is tough to limit socialization, but these are the necessary steps we, as students, can take to help protect and maintain our time on campus. If we want a chance at continuing the spring semester on campus, we need to all take responsibility and recommit to Community First, doing our part and encouraging others to do theirs. 

This is, of course, frustrating and not the ideal way to spend our spring semester, but with everyone’s help and commitment to CARITAS, we can do our part at protecting the community. We can do it, ‘Cats!