COVID-19 policy changes
Sarah Shelton – Features Editor
Sofia Rositani – Editor-In-Chief
COVID-19 policies have become the “new normal:” wearing masks in all indoor areas on campus, one visitor allowed for residential students, and quarantining or self-isolating when coming into contact with someone with COVID-19.
“I can’t speak about the university policies, my area is more about the residence life side of campus and there are quite a few different policies that we have that center around COVID,” Director of Residence Life Robert Demezzo said. “One is that we are still masking. We are masking whether you are vaccinated or not in all of our residential facilities and Connecticut Hall.”
Demezzo said the mask policy is about the same as last semester, but the biggest change this semester is the guest policy in the residence halls.
“We ask that anytime you are outside your private rooms that you are wearing your mask fully,” Demezzo said. “We are going to continue to do that as we are following the Department of Public Health and CDC guideline recommendations regarding COVID.”
Demezzo also said all guests have to be masked at all times unless they are in their rooms. At that point, it is the student’s business, but they must discuss it with their roommate so everyone feels comfortable and safe.
“The guest policy is the biggest thing that people talk about,” Demezzo said. “Last year we were only able to permit current on-campus residents to visit and the reason why is because we knew those students were getting tested every week; we have expanded that now— now that we have such a high vaccination rate, any guest can now visit our resident halls. The only limitation is you can only have one guest per bedroom. If you are in North Campus where there’s two bedrooms, you can have two guests, but if you are in a first-year residence hall in a double, you can only have one guest. The only exception is in West Campus, if you are in a single suite because they have four bedrooms, you are limited to two guests.”
Besides the guest policy, Demezzo said the biggest change in Residence Life is the events they are holding.
“We are committed to having on-ground experiences this year,” Demezzo said. “Last year the majority of our events were online, the RA’s provided online experiences and socials, now we’re seeing a mix, but mostly on-ground events for our students.”
Police Chief Joseph Dooley said during the lockdown the university police department continued to work in-person.
“We were around the clock, as we always are, and there were some challenges. Obviously there weren’t a lot of people here, there was facilities and university police, and even then there was core groups of people,” Chief Dooley said.
During the lockdown they were wearing masks, latex gloves and using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The building was cleaned on a regular basis. The university police helped with the National Guard to put those sick with COVID-19 in the Moore Field House.
“Very early on our department was impacted by COVID, we had a number of officers that were sick and were out. And it was such an unknown at the time we had to really strategize and figure out how we were going to change some of our procedures and do things that will protect people that were working here so that we can keep people on campus and continue the function of what we were doing every day,” Deputy Chief Kenneth Rahn said.
This year, the university police have been using different ways to engage students and to show them they are available if they are ever needed for help. They have been using their social media and Brody, their canine dog, as some ways to interconnect? students this semester.
“I am optimistic that hopefully when these variants of COVID become not an issue, that we’ll be able to return to pre-COVID policies,” Demezzo said. “I am truly hoping in the spring, we’re monitoring what the recommendations are, but there’s optimism that at some point in the spring we’ll be able to return to even more normal. This year is already very different from last year.”