St. Olaf needs to keep its guard up with COVID-19 guidelines

Illustration by Sadie Favour

 

Despite the increase of vaccinated St. Olaf students, current St. Olaf COVID-19 guidelines and community standards should stay consistent with the current status.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines full vaccination status as two weeks after a patient receives the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or two weeks after they receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

St. Olaf College provided the opportunity for students to receive the Pfizer vaccine on April 22 and will be offering the second dose on May 13. Through the CDC’s definition of full vaccination, students who receive the vaccine on these dates are not considered fully vaccinated until May 27. At this point, exams will have ended, and the majority of students will have returned home.

An email from the Campus Reopening Team on April 30 reported that 62% of students are either partially or fully vaccinated, with only 23% fully vaccinated. Due to the two-week period following the second dose, many half-vaccinated students will become fully vaccinated right around finals week or afterward.

In addition to the concerns over the timeliness of full vaccination, scientists are still researching the extent of vaccine effectiveness. So far, scientists have determined that the vaccines are effective at preventing inoculated individuals from contracting COVID-19 and decrease the chances of spreading the virus to those who are unvaccinated.

If you are fully vaccinated or on your way to full vaccination, you should keep in mind the possibility of transmitting the virus to unvaccinated individuals. When in higher-traffic areas on campus, such as Stav Hall, it is more difficult to maintain distance from people not in your social bubble. Even if you are vaccinated, continuing to wear your mask correctly can ease individuals’ stress about contracting the virus.

Scientists are also still studying and learning the effectiveness of the vaccines against variant strains. The increased prevalence of variant strains in Minnesota may indicate variant strains’ presence on campus.

The increased COVID-19 testing among students and faculty was an effective way to combat and locate undetected cases on campus. After a few weeks of substantial amounts of students placed in quarantine and isolation, the number of cases is finally dropping.

The decrease in COVID-19 cases on campus could suggest the potential to loosen restrictions, but with the semester coming to a close in a few weeks, the campus should remain on the same alert level.

There is no overwhelming incentive for the school to loosen restrictions this far into the semester.

  If the College loosens restrictions earlier than the campus is ready, there could be potential for another surge in cases. An increase in COVID-19 at the end of the semester would pose challenges and disruptions in student travel to return home.

If the Campus Reopening Team does decide to loosen restrictions, students’ ability to travel to other dorm buildings would most likely be the least risky policy revisit. However, even easing this restriction comes with drawbacks. If students have access to other dorm buildings, students can more easily interact with each other in private. These private gatherings could cause students to not follow COVID-19 guidelines with people not in their immediate social bubble. These gatherings could be a violation of community standards and potentially spread the virus.

In this case, it is the student’s responsibility to stay safe. Administrators, faculty, staff and your peers are putting their trust in you to stay safe.

It is essential that students maintain communication with their roommate, partner, friends and anyone else who may be in their social bubble. While certain conversations surrounding COVID-19 and COVID-19 safety may be uncomfortable, it is important to be able to address any potential conflicts and worries.

It is easy to become frustrated with the restrictions on campus, especially if they don’t seem the most effective, but it is important to remember that these regulations were placed to ensure the health and safety of students. Even if you are fully vaccinated, continuing to follow restrictions allows the people around you to trust you.

Please continue to correctly wear your mask, follow guidelines and get vaccinated!


franci3@stolaf.edu

Ainsley Francis ’24 is from

Charlotte, NC.

Her major is undeclared.