With the holidays approaching, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have become even more amplified. During a time when people usually come together, it can be difficult to not be able to see family members or friends. However, if Ithaca College students hope to return to campus in the spring, they must abide by social–distancing guidelines.
Under the current rules in New York state, public gatherings of 10 or fewer people are allowed. Even though it may be tempting to do so, now is not the time to have Friendsgiving celebrations or holiday gift exchanges. Over the last five days, there have been over 100 active COVID-19 cases in Tompkins County. This increase reflects the surge of cases nationally. Students living in Ithaca during this semester need to be cognizant that the pandemic is not over. In fact, it is only getting worse.
Do not be complacent. Wear a mask. Keep your distance.
The college is encouraging students to not travel away from the Ithaca community unless they are planning to then stay home through the winter break. Students need to carefully think through their decisions about going home and who they will see if they plan to return to Ithaca after. All of this is critical if members of the college community want to see the college reopen in the spring.
Students living in Ithaca also need to realize that their actions impact the local community. Even if you live on South Hill, you shop at Wegmans. You eat in downtown Ithaca. You ride the TCAT [Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit]. If you are being irresponsible — whether that be attending parties, not wearing a mask or not even getting tested — you are putting more than yourself at risk.
The college has the Community Agreement Reporting Form to provide individuals an opportunity to voice their concerns about incidents they may have seen relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. This form is a necessary tool to hold people accountable for their actions. Members of the college community need to know that people are holding them accountable. It can feel like there is free rein, especially for off-campus students in Ithaca, but the stakes are higher now more than ever.
Students currently living off campus in Ithaca and those hoping to return need to be taking precautions to protect themselves and those who they come in contact with. The actions of one person could affect the whole community.