University leadership to maintain COVID-19 protocols for the entirety of the semester
Observer Staff Report | Wednesday, February 10, 2021
In light of a spike in COVID-19 cases, vice president for student affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding and vice president for campus safety and University operations Mike Seamon answered questions in a student-moderated town hall Tuesday night.
While the number of new daily cases has remained fairly steady the past week as students returned, the University dashboard reported 29 new positive cases Tuesday, which places the estimated number of active cases at 91. The seven-day positivity rate is 0.7%.
Although vaccination efforts are underway throughout the country, Hoffmann Harding said she does not expect a significant portion of the student body to be vaccinated by the spring, so the University is unlikely to relax health and safety protocols by the spring.
“We are waiting in line in the right way for the vaccine to make sure that the populations who are eligible first get it and get it in time,” Hoffmann Harding said.
Although the University applied to be a vaccination administration location last month, Seamon reiterated that there is no guarantee that will happen.
As RecSports has seen an increase in demand for gym reservations, Hoffmann Harding said they will open up additional appointments for students, faculty and staff by Feb. 22. She urged community members to attend appointments they signed up for or notify RecSports if they are unable to keep their reservation.
Once the weather gets warmer, she also said the University will work toward finding ways to create opportunities for students to enjoy the outdoors.
When asked why students cannot invite friends from other dorms into their rooms when indoor dining and large lectures are still permissible, Hoffmann Harding cited state capacity regulations.
“We can have large classroom interactions because we have those larger spaces, and the residence hall rooms just don’t allow for that same type of flexibility in terms of distancing from each other,” Hoffmann Harding said.
By allowing students from other dorms to visit 24-hour spaces within residence halls last week, administration leaders hope students are better able to connect with others.
“I’m really grateful to students who continue to wear their masks in those spaces but we hope that provides more options to get together,” Hoffmann Harding said.