Richards: Improving sanitization practices on campus should be a top priority

Jason Richards, Staff Columnist

As the end of this most chaotic, unprecedented semester draws closer, we must start to think about the return to normality—or the hope of it—for the upcoming fall semester. Given the spread of COVID-19 and Case Western Reserve University’s diverse student and faculty population, we could be one of the campuses around the country that will incur the most risk come next semester.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated at a White House press conference in late March the possibility of the coronavirus reappearing later this year, even after a halt in new cases before then.

Although by this fall we will (hopefully) have a better grasp on how to defend against such a global enemy, as a university, CWRU must step up and make sure students and faculty are safe.

This means introducing more hand sanitizer dispensers in campus buildings and residence halls, as well as enforcing the social distancing practices we’ve all come to know and love throughout this quarantine period. Larger classes may have to be broken up to increase distancing, and more classrooms may need to be put to use to ensure the safety of the campus community, should the coronavirus return.

This is a great time to review the current sanitization practices and custodial services the university has in place, as well as to introduce new and improved processes to be able to handle such an unanticipated event as efficiently as possible.

I do think it is important to note how quickly the university was able to put in place meetings, surveys and requests for feedback from students and faculty, online learning and emergency funding for something as impactful as this virus. It was not an ideal situation, but the transition to an online community was well-executed.

Additional initiatives that could be discussed or encouraged may include an increase in custodial staff, allowing more time between classes to spread out large groups of students and working closely with University Health Services to promote healthy and safe living practices for students.

Recent overhauls of our recycling habits on campus show the power of signage and advertisement to educate the campus community. CWRU has been able to promote better recycling practices through a new initiative of trash cans and signs that explain what can or cannot recycle. Using the same methodology, we can form a process to promote healthy living practices around campus.

With the campus community returning from all over the country and the world, there’s no way to keep track of all possible student and faculty interactions with the virus. And while we all hope a vaccination for COVID-19 will be in the works or completed by the fall, CWRU needs to begin planning for the return to campus as if the possibility for an outbreak is still an issue.

Increasing sanitization would promote safety on campus and bring peace of mind to students and faculty members, as well as their families. Coming together should be an exciting time for our close-knit CWRU community, instead of a time of uncertainty and fear. Paying attention to healthier lifestyles and implementing sanitization practices as our top priority can bring us one step closer to normal—as opposed to six steps apart.