Although this term looks different from most winter terms at Union, I believe that we are beyond fortunate to be here for these next ten weeks, given the current circumstances. Many other institutions have delayed their opening date due to an increase in COVID-19 cases. With all that being said, we must not make foolish mistakes that will put the Union and the Schenectady community at risk of contracting COVID-19, which may ultimately result in an earlier than anticipated return date.
Union College has done an outstanding job at preparing for a safe yet enjoyable winter term. They’ve put new guidelines and restrictions in place, such as holding certain facilities to a limited capacity and having stricter Emocha badge rules. In order for this term to run successfully, it is imperative for everyone to comply with the restrictions put in place. It is now up to the students and staff to abide by these regulations so that everyone remains healthy and the spread of COVID-19 is kept to a minimum. If everyone does indeed follow these new rules, I am certain that we, as a Union community, will succeed in making it through the entire term without a massive outbreak.
However, college is a once in a lifetime experience, where social events and gatherings are bound to occur. Even in the midst of a pandemic, some students are willing to take the risk of contracting the virus by choosing to hang out in large groups and not practice social distancing. Unfortunately, I do think those larger events will still happen, like they did in the latter part of the fall, despite the raging pandemic. But for the majority of the students that do follow the school’s rules, expect to see them socializing outdoors or in large indoor spaces, masked. It is quite obvious that we are living in unprecedented times, but because of that, many are doing whatever they can to keep everybody safe. Union’s RAs, authoritative figures, and even fellow students have not been afraid to call out and penalize those who are not following guidelines, which certainly deters the actions of many individuals.
We cannot forget the fact that the COVID-19 numbers in Schenectady County are rising at a rapid pace. The virus’s rate of infection is higher now than it was in the fall term; when classes ended on November 17th, there was a seven-day average of 23 cases, and now, nearly two months later, the seven-day average skyrocketed to 148. This virus is not a joke and must be taken seriously.
If you do not want to be sent home early, it is absolutely imperative that you partake in outdoor activities, do not welcome visitors, avoid leaving campus, wear your mask at all times in public spaces and social distance.