Brandeis has established a wide range of policies regarding safety from COVID-19, from everyone getting tested multiple times per week to wearing masks indoors. However, these efforts are rendered a lot less effective due to inconsistencies in the enforcement of the policies. We appreciate the effectiveness of vaccines and the work they do to help stop the spread and severity of COVID-19, but some of the policies seem to counteract and contradict each other.
The first issue is testing and keeping a green passport at all (or most) times. The only locations on campus that actually check passports are the dining halls and the library. Although a few professors check students’ passports before they enter the classroom, those are few and far between.
The other issue comes in with the fact that both the library and the dining halls take yellow passports. A person can get a yellow passport by passing the daily health assessment and scheduling a test within the next 24 hours. However this does not assure that the person is actually getting tested: they can just be scheduling COVID-19 tests that they never show up for. This is of particular concern for students who do not live on campus, as the system does not require them to take the daily health assessment every day. Students who live off campus and do not visit the two locations could easily never get tested, and no one would be the wiser.
The bottom line with these concerns is that there is no system in place that assures that everyone is actually getting tested: right now it is left to the integrity of the students. This does not make us optimistic about the current situation at Brandeis: with all the large in-person events coming back to campus, we should be doing more to assure everyone’s safety. Especially as the colder weather is coming, and more and more events will be moving indoors (as well as the incoming flu season).
According to the COVID-19 training, students are still required to be masked in most places indoors, but it is inconsistent considering the lack of adherence to guidelines in other areas.
Another questionable policy is the fact that professors are allowed to take their masks off to teach. In the context of the small classrooms and the questionable benefits of speaking without a mask on, this seems to just scream “let’s spread COVID-19 to the students.” Although we understand that it is more convenient to lecture without a mask on, is the increased risk of the professors spreading the coronavirus really worth it? We would take a slightly muffled sound over the unnecessary risk.
Despite these loosened precautions, other places on campus are still really heavily monitored. We cannot eat in the library, where we are all spread out, but cramming students into the dining hall is allowed. The performing arts are back on campus, which is exciting, but those students are allowed to perform without masks. We understand why—especially in live music, when you literally cannot play while masked. But it makes us question how seriously Brandeis is taking the pandemic this semester.
We are confused about the inconsistency in severity of COVID-19 policies. Overall, Brandeis should take another look at the current COVID-19 policies and how they are implemented: there is definitely a lot of room for improvement.