Rise in COVID-19 cases on campus among other illnesses. Collegian file photo.
MAIRIN MCCARTHY | STAFF REPORTER | email@example.com
As the yearly back-to-school sickness makes its way around campus, colleges and cities around the U.S. are revisited by a familiar illness: COVID-19.
Recent reports of COVID-19 cases at Butler have made students and faculty alike weary about what the revival of this illness means for campus life.
As well as the spread of COVID-19, cases of the flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are spiking all over the country in what medical professionals label as the “tripledemic,” making the transition back to college campuses even more of a health risk.
Katie Palmer, communications manager for the office of President James Danko, assures that the university is taking the proper steps to keep students and faculty safe.
“The university is closely monitoring cases,” Palmer said. “We have a team that was assembled during the height of the pandemic to make sure we are following CDC and Marion County health guidelines, but we haven’t had any indication that we need to go back to more strict policies on social distancing or masking [for this school year.]”
While there are currently no guidelines set on campus to prevent the spread and control of COVID-19, some classrooms are taking preemptive measures to fend off illness.
Rachel Gately, a sophomore psychology and music double major, is already experiencing cautionary changes in her choir class due to the recent outbreak.
“With a lot of people having COVID right now, my professor sent an email [to the class] asking if we could all wear masks to class,” Gately said. “I feel like that’s totally fair because it’s easier to spread COVID when you’re projecting your voice, so I think it’s a completely valid concern.”
Associate professor of communication Lindsay Ems shares similar concerns about the growing number of students contracting COVID-19.
“I think we’ve all been traumatized by the experiences that we’ve had over the past few years where campus has been shut down; it’s very fresh in our memories,” Ems said. “It’s hard on a college campus to keep something like COVID under control.”
While there is no set figure of cases on campus right now, Palmer reassures that the number is nothing like the university has seen in the past.
“It’s a national trend that we’re seeing right now, with kids going back to school and people being in the same spaces again,” Palmer said. “Health Services are keeping an eye on the numbers and what trends might be happening on campus.”
Health Services offers COVID-19 testing in their clinic for students experiencing symptoms. There are also self-tests available for purchase at the Atherton Union healthcare vending machine and the Butler Bookstore. Students can get free N95 masks from Health Services in the Health and Recreation Complex.
After contracting and testing positive for COVID-19, the next step is to complete Butler’s online reporting form to ensure the health and safety of everyone on campus.
Students who test positive have been recommended to isolate at their home residence or an off-campus location. If students are not able to return home, they are expected to remain in their assigned residence hall or apartment for the duration of their isolation and are required to mask.