Holly Shaum, Staff Writer
On the afternoon of Sept. 13, College of Wooster students, staff and faculty received an update regarding the campus’ COVID-19 policies. The latest policy change is a return to a campus-wide mask mandate for all indoor public spaces until Sept. 20, at which time health measures will be reassessed. This counters the previous strategy of the Community Health Taskforce, which had decided to instill a mask-optional policy starting on Sept. 7. The short timeframe between switching from mask-optional to mask-required policies may not bode well for the coming colder weeks and months.
The driving factor behind the Taskforce’s sudden decision is the COVID-19 community level transmission in Wayne County bumping back up to “high” towards the end of the day on Sept. 12. This classification takes into account infection rates and hospitalizations across the county. The Community Health Taskforce continues to make its decisions based on guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and collaboration with the Wayne County Health Department.
Wooster’s students, staff and faculty were also given updates on access to the bivalent vaccine. The Taskforce met with the Wayne County Health Commissioner Nick Cascarelli and Director of Nursing Patricia Reining to review campus health and safety protocols, as well as further plans to distribute bivalent COVID-19 boosters in the near future. Anyone who wishes to receive the latest COVID-19 booster should keep an eye out for more information to come about free on-campus vaccination clinics for all students, staff and faculty.
Wooster students have become accustomed to ever-changing protocols by the College to control the spread of COVID-19 on campus. When asked about her opinion on the new regulations, Abby Thomson ’24 said, “Obviously it’s disappointing to have to be wearing masks again. However, it’s a small concession to protect people’s health, which is the most important thing. I think the administration’s response to the rise in cases is appropriately measured, and fairly consistent with the precedents set under President Bolton.”
According to the campus Community Health Dashboard, 49 Wooster students were in isolation as of Sept. 11, and there were 59 positive cases on campus as of Sept. 10. Students, staff and faculty can pick up masks or rapid tests at the Lowry Center Information Desk, Andrews Library Circulation Desk, Wellness Center Doors A and D and Ruth Williams Hall Stockroom. For now, it seems like the Wooster community should get comfortable with wearing masks on campus for the foreseeable future.