By: Lauren Baker
COVID-19 has affected most (if not all) aspects of University life this semester. Symptom checks, COVID tests, and social distancing are just a few of the ways Shenandoah seeks to keep its students and faculty and staff safe as they go about their days. The Academic Calendar is one of many parts of the college where changes have been instituted for the semester.
We did not have Labor Day off, nor will there be a Fall Break. Instead, Thanksgiving Break will be stretched to an entire week. The rest of the semester will continue as normal with the addition of health checks and social distancing.
This is a sensible decision. Less days off equals less chances to contract COVID-19 or spread it to others. By choosing to rearrange the Fall semester calendar, Shenandoah is further protecting its students, staff, and faculty, as well as the families and friends of those living and working on campus.
Many individuals agree. “As a staff member, I recognize that those would have been days off. But given the changes, it makes it a lot safer…I am exposed to several students throughout the day, and so I really appreciate that we’ve taken Labor Day and turned it into another school day, just so I’m not at risk”, says Administrative Assistant Rachel Sherman. Shenandoah has certainly gone above and beyond in keeping the campus and its employees as safe as possible.
“I’m okay with it, because I don’t want to bring anything I get from school or work back to them [her parents],” says Exercise Science Major Mary Debolt. She is mindful of the fact that her family could be affected should the schedule be identical to last year’s. With the instituted changes, there is less of a chance that she will contract or spread the disease to her family.
FYS mentor Hannah Uhl agrees. “With COVID and everything going on, I think it was a good idea to try and minimize the amount of breaks that we have just so we aren’t leaving campus and potentially bringing stuff back when we come back to campus”.
That is the danger of COVID-19. It is highly contagious, and contains multiple symptoms. Said affects vary from person to person, making it that much harder to identify without proper testing.
Perhaps its most dangerous feature is the fact that said symptoms take so long to emerge, meaning that one can spread COVID-19 to other people if they do not know that they are carrying it.
With all of the risks COVID-19 presents, it would not come as a surprise should the semester schedule change. When asked, Ms. Debolt theorized that it would be safe not to return after Thanksgiving.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea to send everybody home. Just, everyone’s been interacting with so many different people…Doing that for a week, and then sending kids back to school, where they could have symptoms again”.
This is a legitimate concern. The more people interacting with one another, the more likely one of them is to test positive for COVID-19, depending on how well they follow the safety regulations.
It is reasoning like this that may lead to changes in the Spring Semester, although such tweaks have yet to be ascertained. Every precaution is being taken to ensure the safety of everyone at SU. The future may still be uncertain, but Shenandoah stands by its students and staff and faculty every step of the way.