On Sept. 16, Sacred Heart University recorded 94 active cases of Covid-19 on campus, an increase from 50 on Sept. 9.
With the rise in Covid cases, some are wondering whether the SHU- flex model will be reinstated. This program was utilized for the fall 2020 semester through the spring 2021 semester.
“I’m just really worried that we’ll have to go back to fully online classes,” said junior Tristan Saldnha. “I was finally getting used to being back in the classroom and it felt good to be back. I just hope that doesn’t change.”
However, students do not have to be concerned, as the Coronavirus Planning Team has no plans of going virtual.
“I think it’s clear that faculty and students don’t love the remote experience, so we’re trying all we can to keep it on ground,” said Michael Iannazzi, co-chair of the Coronavirus Planning Team.
“We have a 93 percent vaccinated population here, which is fantastic. 93 percent of our people have armor on that protects them from severe illness,” said Iannazzi.
Another area of concern is the delta variant.
“The delta variant is a very potent variant and spreads quickly,” said Lawrence Wielk, Dean of Students. “
The release of the Covid vaccine, which provides a level of protection for people against the virus, had been anticipated since the beginning of the pandemic in hopes of life going back to normal and people staying healthy.
Before the start of the fall semester, the university mandated that students be vaccinated or apply for an exemption. For students to be allowed back on campus, they must have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The first dose was to be submitted on Student Health portal no later than Aug. 13, with the second dose to be submitted by Sept. 15.
As a result of the number of vaccinations, many restrictions were lifted since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
“Our number one goal is normalcy,” said Gary MacNamera, Executive Director of Public Safety and Government and co-chair of the Coronavirus Planning Team. “Everything that we have done is toward that goal and sometimes we have to pivot and take extra precautions because of what we’re presented with.”
With these steps in place, some students feel confident that things will go back to normal.
“If we all adhere to the Pioneer Promise, I believe that we can stay on campus without using SHU-flex,” said sophomore Ishpal Pandhal.
Additionally, Sacred Heart is now implementing random testing again, where 10 percent of the population will be randomly tested for the virus. There are also testing options available to any student, regardless if they are showing symptoms or not.
Despite the rise in cases, some feel there is a revived sense of energy on campus.
“While the numbers are a little higher than we wish they were, I think things are a thousand percent better than last year,” said Wielk.“If we keep working at it, get those numbers down and who knows, maybe at some point this year we can get rid of these masks inside.”