Alma College announced over winter break that students would only be permitted to return home on three specific weekends this semester. This decision was made in order to hopefully lower COVID-19 cases on campus this winter term.
Many students have opinions regarding this decision.
“I feel conflicted that students are only allowed to go home three weekends of the semester. I understand that they want us to have less chances of bringing Covid cases onto campus,” said Chloe Sandborn (‘21).
On campus, many students may feel as though going home only a few times in the semester is isolating and restrictive. For others, their health is a major concern during this pandemic.
“I find it frustrating because I’m immunocompromised and I know that people over the weekend [may] potentially get sick,” said Elizabeth Elliott-Redlin (‘23).
Decisions like this go through a myriad of individuals before anything is finalized, and the college spends much time grueling over such a topic.
“What we really saw was that when students went home that’s when they caught COVID and brought it back to campus,” said Alan Gatlin, senior vice president and chief operating officer here at Alma College. “That was the primary driver of our decision to restrict how frequently students go home.”
While the college may be trying to curb COVID rates on campus this semester, some individuals feel as though the decision doesn’t affect all on campus in the same way.
“It’s frustrating to see sports and some campus groups being able to travel while we are stuck here,” said Sandborn.
While some students are unable to return home as much as they have in previous semesters, others are still permitted to attend away sporting events.
“We didn’t see one instance where it spread at an athletic practice or athletic event,” said Gatlin.
Some students not only feel as though those on sports teams have received special privileges, but as have those that are not yet enrolled here at Alma.
“I also don’t understand why students are only allowed to leave three times a semester while the college allows potential students to come and tour,” said Sandborn.
Current students that live on campus are not permitted to leave the greater Alma area except for three specific weekends that have been laid out by the college, but that doesn’t mean that prospective students are not allowed to visit our campus with their families.
The entire campus was tested after their weekend absence. This has led some to wonder what changes may occur upon the results of this round of COVID testing.
“We’ve laid out two more weekends that students can go home. It would take a pretty dramatic upturn in cases for us to cancel those,” said Gatlin.
If less than one percent of students return a positive test the college will move into Phase II, permitting one other student in each other’s room with masks. Many students remain hopeful for this to become the case, as campus can be an isolating place during this pandemic.
There are some students that wish for campus to change in other ways however.
“I’d much rather have Phase II or have them be more firm on their stance,” said Elliot-Redlin.
Many students can’t help but feel down during these uncertain and lonely times.
“Campus is depressing and only being allowed to leave three times just makes it hard to enjoy my college experience,” said Sandborn.
While students may be permitted to go home or leave the Alma area on just three weekends, the decision makers at Alma College feel as though this is the best plan of action.
“We don’t enjoy having these restrictions in place, we’re just trying to make the best common sense decisions we can,” said Gatlin.