Editorial: CWRU administration’s apathetic attitude toward COVID-19 is worrying

Editorial Board

As we get into the swing of the semester, we can’t forget that COVID-19 still exists. This year, Case Western Reserve University’s administration relaxed guidelines and recommendations surrounding the pandemic, leaving the CWRU community to fend for itself. Masks are not required, and the majority of students and professors have chosen not to wear masks—this is fair considering how long this pandemic has persisted. However, even though we no longer have mask mandates or required testing, that doesn’t mean that COVID-19 has disappeared from the campus. 

After three weeks of classes and unmitigated social interactions, it was inevitable that people would start testing positive for COVID-19. However, it seems as if most people across campus are not aware of this. With students testing positive, it seems as if the obligation to inform others that they have come in contact with a COVID-positive individual has vanished. The university has not been telling classes when an enrolled student tests positive, despite it being very likely that the student didn’t have a mask on. Shouldn’t we know if the person we sat next to tested positive the next day? Furthermore, there may be immunocompromised people in a class, unaware that a classmate has COVID-19 and has possibly endangered them. We might not feel like we have to test regularly anymore, but if cases continue completely unmonitored, we might have to face a return to strict regulations and Zoom classes. 

It’s not just the university that has to work to keep the community protected; there is also a personal obligation to follow. If you have tested positive, please inform friends or other people you have been in contact with about your test result and encourage them to get tested. Moreover, please stay home if you test positive—it is understandable that quarantining might be difficult when some professors don’t provide reasonable accommodations, but health and safety should be a priority. Mitigating the spread is essential—we don’t want the ever-shifting regulation changes that we did last year.

However, while students can do their part by testing and staying home, the administration needs to provide better accommodations and resources for the well-being of CWRU’s community. Beyond informing us of close contact situations, the university should also make testing and quarantine protocols a priority again—it is far too disorganized currently. Both rapid and PCR tests within CWRU buildings are sparse, with test vending machines often being empty. The federal government is no longer sending households free rapid tests, so students are now forced to find tests on their own. When one is in need, this can be an inconvenient and difficult venture. Furthermore, isolation housing on-campus is not a guarantee, with the university indicating that  “some students [need] to isolate in place (in their current residence hall room).” The isolation spaces last year are now being used as current on-campus living, making it unclear where students who must isolate separately need to go. Moreover, students on-campus who test positive “may not receive a phone call from the Isolation/Quarantine team until more than 24 hours after you receive notification of your positive test” due to the high volume of cases, according to CWRU’s health and safety guidelines. It is incredibly concerning that the university doesn’t have the proper resources or responses to deal with COVID-19 after more than two years since the pandemic started. We knew that lifting a mask mandate and having all in-person classes would most likely lead to more cases; we had just been forced to trust our administration to be more responsible in handling this increase. That trust may soon run out if the university continues failing to provide much-needed resources.

The sentiment of being tired of the pandemic is ubiquitous, but that doesn’t mean COVID-19 has disappeared. Some of us are lucky enough to not have to worry about the consequences of testing positive, but the danger is still great for some students on campus. Overall, CWRU needs to do better with responding to COVID-19. We can’t just sweep the reality of it under the rug.