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Adjustments to the spring semester due to COVID-19

If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve read Brandeis’ recent email detailing the changes to the COVID-19 policy and the upcoming remote return to classes. In case you haven’t, here’s a brief summary.

 

  1. Brandeis will be holding classes remotely for the first two weeks of the spring semester. A return to in-person instruction is anticipated on Feb. 1, but this is subject to change.
  2. Students may delay their return to campus, and can choose to arrive as late as Jan. 31 if they so choose. Students may also attend remote classes from anywhere.
  3. Hereafter, students who are on campus and test positive for COVID-19 may be forced to isolate themselves in their dorm rooms. This is due to a lack of university-provided isolation housing.
  4. Students must submit proof of a COVID-19 booster shot by Jan. 25 (the previous deadline to submit evidence was Feb. 15).
  5. The university will be holding more booster clinics in the very near future.
  6. Dining halls will be grab-and-go until in-person classes resume on Feb. 1.
  7. Isolation and quarantine periods will follow the newly updated CDC guidance.
  8. Students, faculty, and staff all must submit negative PCR or rapid tests before arriving back on campus, regardless of arrival date. Students who are living off-campus are not required to submit tests, but are strongly encouraged to.
  9. If you contract COVID-19 over the break, you must contact the university’s tracing service.
  10. Non-essential staff who are currently working from home should continue to do so.
  11. No more food will be served at in-person events. Additionally, people who enter lounges or attend in-person meetings are required to wear masks regardless of the amount of people present.
  12. Students are strongly encouraged to wear surgical masks or respirators (KN95 and KF94) instead of other types of masks.

 

That was a lot of information for one email, and most of the adjustments the administration is making seem logical. For example, requiring tests prior to a return to campus is a great step and should help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Additionally, allowing faculty members to continue working remotely and allowing students to delay their return to campus are great steps.

 

Requiring booster shots is a great step, and the adjustment to the deadline is necessary. To ensure that the return to in-person instruction goes as smoothly as possible, as many students as possible should be boosted. Thus, requiring students to have their booster at least a week before remote instruction ends is a very well thought out adjustment that will protect the Brandeis community.

 

However, some adjustments listed in the email are not so logical. For example, expecting students who test positive for COVID-19 to quarantine in their own rooms is a terrible provision. For students who test positive, their roommates and hallmates have a much higher likelihood of being infected too. While students may have already spread the virus to their roommates and hallmates before knowing they were infected, this provision raises the probability that students will infect their neighbors. The university should invest money into more isolation housing or buy hotel rooms for students who become infected to avoid spreading the virus throughout residence halls. This adjustment endangers students and faculty, and appears to be neglecting the health of the Brandeis community as a whole.

 

Save for the change to isolation requirements, the administration seems to have a good handle on their COVID-19 response. However, the true test will come once students begin to return to in-person classes.

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