For the fall semester, Ithaca College has chosen to not implement the majority of the COVID-19 regulations that were in place during the previous year. In closed spaces, unless alone or eating, masks are required. Even with this little bit of normalcy, the delta variant remains a concern for the Ithaca community as positive cases continue to go up.
Each student, staff and faculty member at the college has a responsibility not just to themselves but to the rest of the community to get vaccinated. Although students are required to be vaccinated, it remains optional for faculty and staff. Unlike the students, faculty and staff are allowed on campus without the requirement of getting the vaccine but must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. This double standard is a risk for the entire campus.
Throughout Spring 2021, a number of students did not follow COVID-19 protocols and violated the Community Agreement by not wearing masks or gathering in large groups. If these infractions occurred last semester, it is highly likely that they will occur again.
For the sake of the entire community, it is unrealistic to trust that each unvaccinated student will adhere to wearing masks outside when those around them will not be wearing one. The same expectation should be put on faculty and staff.
In the few instances where students have submitted false information about their vaccination cards, the risk this places on the whole community — on campus and in the surrounding area — is enraging. This puts the stability of the entire campus and the health of every individual on the line. It is selfish to refuse to get vaccinated or to attempt to falsify a vaccination card. This is not about one individual, this is about every member of the college.
Unless there are specific instances of medical and religious exceptions, every single person should be vaccinated. Even vaccinated, precautions should still be taken to a certain extent because vaccinated individuals may not experience severe symptoms but there is the chance of contracting the virus and affecting other individuals. While most people are vaccinated and may experience minor symptoms, the increase and spread of cases may force the whole community to go back to hybrid mode and, in the worst-case scenario, go back to remote learning. As a community, we must assume responsibility for ourselves and each other and get vaccinated.