Ever since that fateful day in March when the world was put under lockdown, the world has felt unease. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring; it is a mystery what will happen next year, next month or even an hour later.
Even now we are experiencing a second major lockdown. My guess is that by the end of the month we will be back in a strict lockdown like we were this past spring. This is our new normal.
Thankfully, Xavier has done a decent job controlling the number of COVID-19 cases on campus. Diligent mask wearing, social distancing and an abundance of cleaning stations across campus have helped keep our case numbers low. Xavier is also one of the few universities in the country that has been able to safely maintain the option of in-person classes.
After all, Xavier’s undergraduate population of about 5,000 students allows us to have these in-person opportunities, unlike larger schools such as the neighboring University of Cincinnati with about 28,000 students.
Xavier’s smaller size has given me the opportunity to make friends in person during the pandemic, which would’ve been harder in an all-remote environment at a bigger university.
Xavier’s proactivity about the virus is necessary and encouraged but falls short in one way. The university did not require students to get tested for COVID-19 before arriving at campus at the beginning of the semester. All students should be required to test negative for COVID-19 before returning to campus for the spring semester.
Students at Xavier come from all over the country, and many, including myself, live out of state.
Students may also travel to campus by plane, despite airports serving as a COVID-19 breeding ground.
It is vital for all students to test negative before returning to campus this spring in order to reduce the number of cases on campus as much as possible.
Winter brings the cold and flu season, which is sure to cause confusion about whether symptoms are due to COVID-19 or seasonal sickness.
Advised self-quarantine is not enough. Sending thousands of students back to campus without physical evidence that they are COVID-19 free is too much of a risk for Xavier to take.
Xavier should require all students to either get tested before arrival or get tested upon arrival with mandatory quarantine until the results are available.
Universal testing is feasible, supported by other universities such as the University of Alabama who had all students tested when they arrived at move in day.
In addition to not requiring a negative test result upon arrival to campus, getting tested once on campus proves to be difficult as well.
Tests are distributed scarcely, and when calling the Xavier Virus Testing Hotline, a specific reason must be given to receive a test. Students should be able to test at least once a week, even if just as a precaution.
Lack of funding is not the issue, but rather the distribution of funds. Expensive events including Bingo with $2,000 worth of prizes are frequently held. Although these events are fun, the safety of our students should take precedence.
I presume that there will be a major spike in cases over this winter season due to the fact that it is both the flu and cold season. Lots of gatherings will happen indoors. The virus spreads like wildfire.
When we come back in 2021, the cases will also skyrocket back on campus. We have to continue as a whole country to practice responsible social distancing, continue to wear our masks and stay clean and safe in order to get this country back together.
Xavier should start out by testing all students when we return to campus to try and decrease the risk of a large outbreak among our campus.