Over the past two years, COVID-19 has taken a large toll on colleges and universities across the world, students being the ones to see the effects first hand. There have been dividing arguments about how the pandemic should have been handled. College and university campuses used varying methods for pandemic management, but the same three general processes seemed to be universal: masking, testing and quarantining. There is a lingering question of what the Fall 2022 semester at KSC will look like.
Keene State College was one of the colleges that required masks at the beginning of the pandemic to keep COVID-19 cases on campus at a low level. At present, masking is enforced in classrooms and medical areas, including the COVID-19 testing site and Wellness Center. Masks are optional at all other campus locations.
The Equinox thinks that the upcoming Fall 2022 semester should approach masking at discretion. The Equinox understands there are some students and professors who are wary of going maskless in the classroom, so we propose that KSC allow professors to determine whether masks are required in their classrooms or not.
Outside of the classroom, we think continuing at discretion masking is the best way to approach the coming semester. For students who wish to continue wearing masks, they should have the freedom to do so and vice versa. There is an opportunity to take back what life used to be like pre-pandemic.
When it comes to the testing protocols, The Equinox proposes some ideas about how KSC should approach next semester’s testing. First, there should be an arrival test for all students, residential and off-campus, like previous semesters. This way we can safely begin the semester without having to worry about spreading the virus.
What happens next should be determined by that first round of arrival testing. If case levels are low enough after the arrival tests, our suggestion is to test bi-weekly (every two weeks). We should feel comfortable doing so especially because staff and faculty are not required to be tested anymore currently.
An additional suggestion is that KSC could move to symptomatic testing only, which would allow students who are sick or feeling symptoms of COVID-19 to be tested as necessary. This process will also save a lot of money for the college, as it will not be paying the same amount for weekly testing.
For clarification purposes, “isolation” at KSC is a term used to refer to students who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are living separately from their dorms and classes. “Quarantine” refers to students who have had exposure to, or have come in contact with, someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and who is separating themselves from campus to ensure further exposure is limited. The Equinox thinks the current quarantine and isolation protocols at KSC are adequate for the community and should remain in place.
We look forward to a safe and healthy 2022-2023 academic year and look hopefully towards a COVID-19 free life both on campus and otherwise.