By Cait Kemp
With the updated masking policy presenting an even more relaxed approach at combatting COVID-19, the Springfield College community has come a long way since the beginning of the pandemic. Students and staff alike are finally getting a sense of what “normal” used to be, despite the complete end of the virus still yet to come.
However, there has recently been an emergence of a new variant of COVID-19. The Springfield Student sat down with Christine Johnston, Assistant Director of Alcohol and Drug Education and Health Promotion, to discuss the pandemic and the status of the College campus.
Q: What can we expect from the new variant and how will it affect the campus?
A: I think the answer is we don’t know. The new variant, it’s hard to tell. We know that in some of the Northeast states, New York and Massachusetts, numbers are increasing. What we haven’t seen yet is the hospitalizations increasing. We know that the vaccines are really effective in preventing severe disease. We may see some numbers uptick, but I think it’s just still too early to tell.
Q: Where does the campus stand with COVID-19 in the past several weeks?
A: We were really pleasantly surprised with everything after spring break, we’ve only had a couple of cases. So with folks traveling and going everywhere, we didn’t see a big uptick in the two weeks after break which is awesome. We also didn’t see an uptick when we took masks off. That also has to do with the fact that people were already spreading it in their close friends groups, so there wasn’t a huge change.
Q: What do the numbers look like in terms of cases on campus?
A: In the last seven days we’ve done 252 tests, and we had one positive. That is a positivity rate of 0.4%. In the last month, our last 30 day positivity rate is 0.59%, so less than 1% of our tests are positive. Obviously, we’re not testing the same number of people that we were a year ago, but that’s okay. We’re still following the guidance that vaccinated asymptomatic people don’t need to be in a testing protocol.
Q: Who on campus is still in the testing protocol?
A: On a consistent basis, athletes that are competing at the NEWMAC level, many of them are still testing, and anyone who has a vaccine exemption on file. Testing is still available for students as needed.
Q: Reflecting on the past year, how do you think the school community has handled the pandemic?
A: I’m so proud of the community as a whole, that would be students, faculty, staff, administration. Just getting us here in September, keeping us here, having classes running in person, major events running in person all the way through Commencement happening in person. I think that really reflects upon every single member of this community.
Photo Courtesy of Springfield College