On Jan. 27, the Coronavirus Planning Team sent out an email regarding the restrictions that were put into place at the beginning of the semester, as well as some restrictions that are being lifted due to decreasing Covid-19 numbers, both in the Sacred Heart University community and Connecticut.
Some of these changes include an increased number of people in the Bobby Valentine Health and Recreation Center, the shuttle to downtown Fairfield running again, more spectators being able to attend indoor sporting events, food and beverages being allowed at indoor events, and masks allowed to be lowered to take a drink in class.
“What I am most excited about after the restrictions are lifted is having more people pack the indoor sports games,” said sophomore Marissa Lavalle. “It really adds to the community when you see full stands, and it keeps the teams motivated.”
As the university implements these new policies, questions still arise as to whether cases will continue to stay low.
According to the Sacred Heart website, the first week back to school showed 57 positive cases.
Larry Wielk, Dean of Students, was not expecting any of the policies put in place at the beginning of the spring semester to be lifted in such a short amount of time.
“We thought the start of the semester was going to be a lot worse than it was, and it turned out better fortunately,” said Wielk. “I think the reason it turned out this way is because from the day we left after exams last semester, to the day we started returning and having all students get tested before they came back, over 900 students tested positive.”
“They did not come back here bringing Covid with them,” said Wielk. “So when we tested everyone that first week of school, we didn’t have nearly as many positive cases as we thought we would. One concern is how the university can prevent these cases from going up throughout the semester. Students are still required to wear masks at all times indoors, whether vaccinated or not.”
However, not all students are following the masking rules. Some students believe that this is due to the lack of consequences for breaking the guidelines.
“The majority of the school follows the policies implemented,” said freshman Haley Loscher. “Yet there are many who don’t because they know there is no punishment for it.”
According to Wielk, the biggest issue for the university is that there are many students who do not not wear masks correctly in dining halls.
“I think the biggest concern that we have is the wearing of face masks,” said Wielk. “Unfortunately, students don’t listen to everyone evenly. The biggest issue that we have is in all our dining areas. Many of the Chartwells employees are getting hassled when they ask a student to put their face mask on.”
Many students are hoping these new policies will lead to a more normal college experience.
“If cases continue to stay this low, I would love to see more restrictions lifted,” said junior Abby Boenig. “I am hopeful for a mask-free senior year if that would even be possible by the fall.”
Gary MacNamara, Executive Director of Public Safety and Government Affairs and co-chair of the university’s Coronavirus Planning Team, is very hopeful for the future of the school community.
“Over the last two years, we have learned that predictions as they relate to Covid are very difficult,” said MacNamara. “However, everything seems to be trending in the right direction. Not only the virus, but also the steps and precautions that we have put in place have allowed us to all trend in the right direction.”