Staying safe on campus during COVID’s rampant spread


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The Gael community is faced with yet another strain of COVID to fight as campus reopens fully for the spring semester.  

Tiffany Persaud, Features & Lifestyle Editor

COVID-19 appears to be never-ending. Like…can we talk about anything else? Students are bombarded with COVID-19 information, rumors, remedies, media, political agendas, safety policies and everything under the sun. Yet, students and faculty are still falling sick after a few days back on campus for the spring semester. This specific Omicron strain is extremely contagious, regardless of vaccination status or how much of a germaphobe you have become since the spring of 2020.  

The college has implemented one new rule this semester: wearing one cloth mask is not permitted. According to the CDC, surgical masks, KN95 or N95 are more effective in preventing the spread. Iona’s Health Services has required masks in all buildings on campus by all individuals. Iona has zero-tolerance for non-adherence to the indoor mask mandate and there will be consequences for students and employees who do not adhere to the mask mandate. However, people still wear masks below their noses or under their chin, since it’s impossible to surveil thousands of individuals. Masks may also be temporarily removed when actively eating or drinking in designated areas.  

Continuing with last semester’s testing agenda, unvaccinated students are still required to pay $500 per semester for on-campus testing in the Arrigoni Center. Testing is readily available for students and faculty regardless of vaccination status. 

If tested positive, those infected must isolate for five days, where day zero is the day of symptom onset, or if asymptomatic, the day of collection of a positive test result. Students and faculty who test positive should inform Health Services and upload their test results to the Medicat portal. This is where absences have become an abused issue for professors to deal with since students have lied about testing positive in the past to be exempted from class without punishment. However, to have an excused absence, Health Services must verify your positive result.  

You may return to class after completing five days of isolation, returning to class on the sixth day if asymptomatic. Students should not return if they are showing feverish symptoms, like body aches, a runny nose or cough. If an infected student is asymptomatic after five days, or if symptoms are resolving, they can end isolation but must wear a well-fitting face mask around others for an additional five days.  

Although regulations seem repetitive, it is vital to the safety of our community that you adhere to them. Sanitizing objects you touch often such as your keys, wallet, phone and laptop is a small step that makes the biggest difference in the transfer of germs.  

We’re all tired of COVID. We won’t be young and flawless forever, so it is quite disappointing we’re being covered with a medical mask. At least Zoom provided an audience whose smile we could see, for those with their cameras on. Even with quarantine time shortened to five days, if cases continue to rise, would schools resort back to remote learning?