Spring semester started off slightly differently than what students had become accustomed to in the fall. Temporary enhanced safety protocols were announced before students returned to campus in response to the Omicron variant. Classes were moved to remote learning through the week of Jan. 10, though students who cleared COVID testing requirements were allowed to move into residence halls as early as January 9th.
Additional enhanced safety measures included wearing KN95 or N95 masks indoors, but because they may not be as accessible, surgical masks may be doubled up. A surgical mask covered by a cloth mask is also permissible. Students eligible for a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine are required to receive it.
Also unlike the end of the previous fall semester, University Dean of Student Affairs Donna Eddleman announced on Jan. 4 that student organizations would withhold from hosting indoor gatherings and meetings, that indoor social gatherings could not exceed four persons, and that only enrolled students and university personnel are allowed inside residence halls until Jan. 21. However, on the 21st, the Dean announced protocols would be extended until the 31st of January because of increased concern over community members not complying with the measures in place.
Finally, temporary enhanced safety protocols were lifted on Feb. 1, meaning students could eat inside of the Irvine Commons again instead of the grab-and-go procedure. Student organizations are now permitted to hold meetings indoors again– with masks of course.
Students of the University of Redlands had mixed reactions to the lifted protocols surrounding indoor gatherings.
“We’re still in this uncertainty,” said Carlos Chavez ‘23. “I don’t think the university is really focusing on major protocols and really caring for the student body as far as protection they might need.” He pointed out that weekly COVID case reports may not encompass the true number of positive cases on campus because not all students are complying with the seven to ten-day testing requirement.
“I think [indoor dining] should be allowed. It makes sense, we pay for it,” said Kylie Robinson ‘24. “We should be able to have access to it.”
“I’m comfortable, personally,” said Ben Cowan ‘22. “The numbers seem to have been pretty good, at least for what was recorded for the school, it didn’t seem like there was a crazy outbreak. I guess there’s also an option to not eat [indoors] if you aren’t comfortable, you can take it to-go.”
“I think it’s like business as usual,” said Angel Lopez ‘23. “It just feels like last semester.” On the subject of the honor code with COVID-19 testing, he said, “I feel like it’s fifty-fifty. You’ll have people that are like ‘Oh, s— I have COVID’ or you’ll find out that someone had COVID and you’re like ‘dude, what the f— why didn’t you tell me you had COVID?’ I have seen both sides.”
In addition to the Irvine Commons being open for indoor dining, as of Feb. 16, the Launch and the Den have reopened as well. The COVID Task Force is formulating plans to gradually lift indoor mask requirements, however, the CDC considers some areas of campus as high transmission spaces, thus, the Task Force is airing on the side of caution even as the state of California begins to lift the mask mandate. Indoor mask requirements will still be in place after Spring Break.
Photo contributed by Bulldog photographer Michael Driscoll.