Students and faculty react to spring semester COVID-19 protocols

Jessica Simms and Katie Langley

As the spring 2021 semester is now in full swing, Quinnipiac University students and administration are hoping that by following  COVID-19 protocols, the community will be able to stay on campus until the end of the academic year. 

With the rise in COVID-19 cases nationwide, protocols have had to change in order to contain the spread of the virus.

Tom Ellett, chief experience officer, said that one of the main adjustments to these protocols for the spring semester is that if a student misses a single required COVID-19 test, they will be required to get a test within 48 hours or they will be removed from the university.

Connor Lawless

“With the extra strains of COVID-19 that are out there, we are trying to be much more aggressive in terms of containing the bubble,” Ellett said. 

However, some students wish that there were more testing days each week to give students more flexibility and to limit the lines.

“I think that testing should be done more than two days a week so there are more time options available for students to go and get tested,” said Dan Anvi, a first-year athletic training major.

Anvi said that the large crowds at the testing centers also add to his anxiety around the testing process. He also expressed that the crowding seen in dining halls is worrying. 

“Even though there is an app to order food, the lines are still outrageous and it is very unorganized,” Anvi said. 

Zachary Ailara, a first-year health science major, is currently in isolation housing. He agrees that other students breaking violations is frustrating but said that a distinction must be made between how students are disciplined. 

“It depends on how they break the rules,” Ailara said. “Humans are social, and if my friend is caught in another dorm I’d feel sympathetic. This is because he’s allowed to go to the Cafe with that person, eat without a mask, in an area where tons have been previously, but gets in trouble when he’s in a less occupied room that’s arguably cleaner. Now if the same friend goes off campus to a party or something similar, then it’s frustrating.” 

If a student does see others violate a protocol and is uncomfortable by their actions, they can call the tipline at (203) 582-4333 or  email [email protected]. One change to the tipline this semester is that it is no longer anonymous. 

“It really does no good because if we do take conduct action, we need evidence to put forward to the person who is responsible,” Ellett said. “It goes back to the whole idea that we all have responsibility to this community and you should be and I should be offended if (students) have a party. The expectations have been set.” 

Ellett said that students should also call the tipline if they witness a faculty or staff member violate a protocol. Recently, the university responded to an incident where a shuttle driver did not follow protocols by not wearing a face covering and allowing the shuttle to fill past capacity. Public Safety said they investigated the incident, which occurred on Jan. 31. 

“Public Safety notified ProPark, the company that operates the shuttle bus service, and is reviewing footage from the shuttle and prohibiting the driver from returning to campus until after the investigation is completed,” said John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations. “The university is committed to strongly enforcing proper health protocols to create a safe, healthy environment for its students.”

When it comes to students who have had to isolate, Ailara said it has been a somewhat confusing experience. 

“The rules are kind of vague, and I feel like it’s counterintuitive because if we’re supposed to isolate, why do we have roommates and other people in our building who can come and go?” Ailara said. 

Other students also expressed their frustration with isolation housing, including Ali Feldman, a first-year biomedical science major, who said that isolation was harmful to her mental health. The university moved her to a hotel to isolate. Feldman said she believes that the issue is with the university’s lack of communication to the student body. 

“The communication is horrible and everything is extremely unorganized. I was supposed to get my COVID-19 test last weekend, but I didn’t get it until yesterday,” Feldman said. 

Alexa Taraboccia, a first-year nursing major, agrees that communication needs to be improved, saying that her testing process was confusing while in quarantine. Taraboccia said she was put in isolation when friends tested positive, then contracted the virus herself. 

“I understand that this is new for everyone but as someone who went through quarantine and is now positive, the communication isn’t that strong,” Taraboccia said. “Towards the end of my quarantine, before I tested positive, I was told that the health center was going to call me to set up a date for my day eight testing. That never came … my mom ended up calling to figure this out.” 

However, Taraboccia said that the university is doing a good job of covering her expenses as she is quarantined in a hotel. 

Other students continue to be quarantined in dorm buildings. Last week, university administration announced that the Commons and Hill 10s buildings would take classes remotely while completing a 10-day quarantine period. Ellett said other universities have adapted this strategy, and it was something Quinnipiac had planned to do if clusters of cases were found in the same residence halls.

“It’s what our health expert recommended based on the numbers of COVID positives,” Ellett said. “It’s a strategy, and it’s been posted since the beginning of the fall semester … It’s not unlike a lot of other colleges have done. Sacred Heart, UConn, a number of institutions did it last fall where there were buildings that they had quarantined.”

Ellett said he wants to work with students who have concerns. 

“If students are upset with the food, if students are upset with the residence halls, if they’re upset with how they pay their bill, I want to work to change that so that it’s easier, that people are listening, that people do it in a respectful manner and that they do it in a caring way, that we’ve heard you, that it matters to us,” Ellett said.

While there was an uptick in cases last semester after Halloween, Ellett is hoping that by quarantining dorm buildings, having some staff and students vaccinated and communicating with students, the university will not see a huge increase in cases all at one time.

“These aren’t fun times for any college student and also at the same time for any college faculty member or administrator that we have to live like this, but if we care about our fellow humans, we all have a responsibility to do the right thing,” Ellett said. 

Ellett said that students have a responsibility to monitor each other in order to keep the community safe. 

“Treat others as you would want to be treated, or treat that person that’s in front of you like your mother or your grandmother, your father was watching you, and would they be proud of you,” Ellett said. “… How do you want to be remembered? How do you want to be thought of?”