Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

We need to talk about COVID-19 again

UMass is mismanaging COVID
Ana Pietrewicz/ Daily Collegian (2021)

The excitement is in the air — you’re finally back at school and hanging out with all your friends. You’re getting through syllabus week and learning if your professors will be bearable or nightmare fuel. Everything seems to be going well until your roommate tests positive.

My roommate recently tested positive for COVID-19, and I found myself scrambling to protect myself and the people around me. Due to policy loosening, resources and services related to COVID safety have been taken away, often forcing students to figure out how to be safe on their own. From my own experience, it feels like the University of Massachusetts brushed COVID under the rug and left students vulnerable to the virus.

Last year, UMass provided quarantine housing so students had a safe place to recover and avoid contact within dorms. Due to the housing crisis, however, UMass had to give up quarantine housing to create dorm space, telling students that they should try to go home. This option is clearly not feasible for international or out of state students and those with high-risk family members. Either way, students are forced to choose between infecting their friends or family.

Many students are then forced to stay in their dorms, leaving them to figure out methods to prevent spreading it to their roommates. Their roommates are also burdened with trying to keep themselves safe as they are suggested to stay out of their room most of the time –– something I had to do when my roommate couldn’t get picked up until around midnight.

Food also becomes a problem as, according to UMass policy, students must find someone to get them meals from the dining hall. This can cause problems when the student’s roommate is also sick, or they don’t have anyone else to get them food. To solve this, UMass suggests they go to Grab ‘N Go and be quick. However, Grab ‘N Go is rarely quick and always crowded, meaning that a hungry COVID-positive student will probably prioritize getting food over protecting others in a dire situation. Other options like sick meals can also be unreliable as you still have to pick them up. Additionally, my friend group experienced problems getting “get well” meals as Worcester Dining Commons would not pick up their phone. If the university can’t provide separate housing, it should at least provide a delivery service for COVID-positive students.

UMass policy causes even more confusion when it comes to their vague exposure policy that forces students to fill in the blanks. The guideline only features two definite points which are to wear a KN95 and test after five days. After that, it just tells you to be “cautious” for ten days and to avoid “high-risk” individuals. Just telling students to be “cautious” makes them confused as they don’t know if they should go into the dining halls, stay out of classes or even take the bus. What if professors are high-risk? How are you supposed to guarantee you can protect them if you have to go to class? UMass isn’t clear enough on what you should do if you are exposed and it could put more people at risk of being exposed.

UMass has also created a void of information, as they no longer have weekly reports on positivity rates. Because students are required to report positive cases to UHS, UMass still has the relevant data. They hide this information from students as everyone sits in lecture halls full of coughing people. If they don’t know the numbers, people may not think it’s widespread and may relax their own precautions.

When we entered the spring 2022 semester, students were required to send in test results before they could enter campus. But for fall move-in, students were only “expected” to test. Because of this, many students probably didn’t test and could have come to campus unknowingly having COVID.

In the end, UMass needs to help students prevent the spread because COVID is not disappearing anytime soon. Cases will only rise as we enter the fall and winter months, meaning the administration needs to implement preventative measures. UMass needs to take covid seriously again.

Lily Fitzgerald can be reached at [email protected].

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  • J

    joeOct 4, 2022 at 4:09 pm

    wow – still?

  • J

    jethroOct 3, 2022 at 11:12 am

    alternatively, no

    covid at this point is the same as the flu. you’re going to have to just deal with it