College life in a pandemic: How things at Fisher compare to other schools

By Abby Dwyer, a student in COMM 100

“I personally do feel safe on campus right now,” Emily King, a St. John Fisher College student, and peer mentor said. 

With people still contracting COVID-19, colleges across the country are all finding different ways to adjust to the virus based on their state and county guidelines.

For the fall 2021 semester, St. John Fisher College has several guidelines in place to keep the campus as safe and covid-free as possible. According to the school website, the vaccine is mandated for “all members of the community,” but masks are required at all times while indoors unless actively eating or drinking. 

Masks are not required when in a dorm room, but resident students can make their own mask-wearing rules for their rooms. 

However, unlike last year, students are not required to social distance and masks are not required outside. If someone is exposed, they may be required to quarantine until they get a negative test result. With these guidelines set in place, Fisher has seen very few on-campus cases. 

I think the protocols definitely make it more isolating due to the fact that we need to have certain guidelines in place while hanging out in certain areas,” one Fisher student who wished to remain anonymous said. 

While students are not required to be 6 feet apart, some may agree that wearing masks everywhere can make hanging anywhere besides a dorm feel slightly off-putting. 

“But, I believe without these protocols, it would be difficult to keep cases down, so I see the importance of it,” the student continued. But, while some students feel more isolated due to the mask mandate, others do not. 

“In comparison to last year, I feel as though I am feeling less isolated with the protocols put in place,” King said. Students who experienced the social distancing protocols in place last year may feel as though it is much less restricted this year than it was last year. 

“With being able to sit near friends in the dining hall and having the ability to take masks off outside, it seems like a very nice change,” King added, as social distancing is no longer an enforced protocol on Fisher’s campus.

Many students seemingly not following the mask mandate is something that many may have noticed. With St. John Fisher College sending out countless emails reminding students to wear their masks and to wear them correctly, do those abiding by the rules feel safe?

“My friends and I are (following the mask mandate),” the anonymous student said. “But I see many others who are not doing the same.” 

If one were to take a walk around campus, chances are one would see several people not wearing their masks properly, with their nose hanging out, or just not wearing one in general. 

While it is not ideal, St. John Fisher College’s mask mandate seems to be helping to keep the campus and community safe, even if everyone is vaccinated. Since September 7, the college has seen a total of 38 cases. But, how are other New York State colleges handling the pandemic, and what do their guidelines look like?

“Social distancing at my college is completely nonexistent,” says Cade LaGoy, a Sophomore English major at Siena College in Loudonville, New York. Unlike Fisher, Siena College does not require masks. 

“We have signs that state that masks are recommended but not required for fully vaccinated individuals.” 

While Siena College does not require masks for students, faculty, and guests who are fully vaccinated, the college still requires masks for those who are not vaccinated. However, regardless of this recommendation, the college does seem to let professors make their own rules for masks in the classroom. “Some professors do require masks in their classes regardless of this (vaccination status),” LaGoy said. 

With no enforced mask mandate, Siena College has also seen a total of 34 cases Since September 7.

With Fisher and Siena having different restrictions for masks yet having a similar number of positive cases, how do people feel about masks and the in-place restrictions?

I think masks are extremely effective and have helped a lot and think we should continue to wear masks,” LaGoy said, even though his school does not require masks at all times. 

The anonymous Fisher student agrees with Fisher’s mask mandate.

I do believe that it is safe due to most of us wearing masks and being vaccinated.” 

“I personally do feel safe on campus right now,” King explains. “I  think people are making good decisions with what they are doing as well as Fisher being proactive with the way they are handling the issues instead of reactive like they were in the past.”

 

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