We are almost one full year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is embarrassing that this still needs to be said: Wear a mask. Social distance. Do not gather in large groups.
It seems that some members of the Ithaca College campus community need to be reminded that even though in-person classes have resumed for the spring semester, the pandemic has not ended. There are currently over 200 active COVID-19 cases in Tompkins County and 10 active cases at the college. Although these numbers may not seem terrible in the grand scheme of the pandemic, it is critical not to let our guards down. It is not fair to those who are respecting COVID-19 guidelines to be at risk because of others who are letting the thrill of being on campus go to their heads.
Students are not fully to blame. Of course, they are excited to be back with their friends and classmates after almost a year of being away from Ithaca. Some are stepping foot on campus for the first time. Without the proper infrastructure for safety guidelines and a clear idea of what the repercussions are if they break COVID-19 protocols on campus, how can they be expected to act?
As could have been expected, the phased move-in process came with some difficulties — some of which were out of the college’s control. Between delays in test results and testing offices closing due to inclement weather, there were a few bumps along the way. However, there are no excuses for some mistakes, like the college-issued masks so thin that they do not pass the lighter test, or the lack of enforcement of social distancing in the lines pooling out of the dining hall.
What is the point of quarantining within campus residences if students can simply hang out in the dining halls and potentially expose dining hall employees and other students? The college needs to emphasize safety regulations and actually reinforce those standards.
Understandably, the college needs time to adjust and adapt to the changes that have come about as a result of the pandemic. After shifting the fall semester online, however, the college should have been more prepared than it is. Of course, students must also take accountability. We must do our part and remain responsible and cautious while interacting with others.
It is a privilege to be back on campus this semester. Many colleges have chosen to stay remote, and in the blink of an eye, we can find ourselves in the same position.