Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, college students have had to adapt and persevere through the hardships, hazards and COVID-19 restrictions that were necessary to keep staff members and students safe through these challenging times.
Over time, Alma College has changed its COVID-19 policies in line with recommendations by local, state and national health officials. This is the first time since 2020 that COVID-19 policies at Alma College are looking more relaxed.
To start, face masks are no longer a requirement on campus. Faculty, however, can still require students to wear face masks to their individual classes if they wish to stay masked this semester.
“I continue to require masks in my class,” Patrick Furlong, professor of history said. “Due to my age and health issues that leave me vulnerable to serious complications from a breakthrough COVID-19 infection, I need to [do] what I can to avoid contracting the disease,” Furlong said.
Furthermore, the email regarding the updated COVID-19 policies explained that quarantine and isolation after exposure to someone positive is only necessary if the affected individual is symptomatic.
Students and staff exposed to a positive case will need to be tested regardless of being asymptomatic and must wear a mask for ten days past the date of exposure.
The email emphasized in bold that “if you test positive for COVID-19, feel generally sick, or are exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please notify the college by filling out the Health Screening app.”
Relaxed regulations mean a return to normalcy, to some extent. An email from Damon Brown, the Vice President of Student Affairs, stated that Alma College “will begin the 2022-23 academic year without restrictions on food service, events and gatherings or guests and visitors.”
Many students have accepted relaxed regulations.
“I think the new COVID-19 policies are fine until cases start ticking up again,” said Ryan Gray ’25.
“I think this is great for the school because it will allow students to get the full FSL rush experience, which is something I am looking forward to. Plus, it will be the first almost normal year since I have been at Alma College,” Jon Beerbower ‘24 said.
As the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be coming to a close, the monkeypox virus has begun to raise concerns about another mass public health issue. Alma College has made it clear that they are working closely with public health officials to monitor the situation.
“I suspect it is only a matter of time before monkeypox becomes an issue on campus, spreading from high-risk groups to the general student population and beyond,” Furlong said.
In contrast, Gray said that he does not “think Monkeypox will spread like COVID-19 did… There are already vaccine strategies ready to mitigate the threat.”
Although more relaxed COVID-19 policies promise a more normal college experience, Alma College will continue to observe the situation in order to “make the best decisions related to our COVID-19 policies and… will continue to do so this term.”