By, Lauren Raziano & Nicole Fitzsimmons, Social Media Editor & News Editor
As students return to campus for an all-in person semester, Manhattan College is preparing to protect the community from COVID-19 and the prominent Delta variant with updated regulations and protocols for the upcoming academic semester.
Following the initial decision to allow those who are vaccinated to be unmasked in indoor spaces, Jaspers Return announced in an email sent to the Manhattan College community on Aug. 27 that all individuals will be required to wear a mask when indoors.
“Out of an abundance of caution, our One Manhattan guidelines, including guidelines for masking, are changing as we come together for the start of the semester,” the email stated.
The new decision outlines that everyone is required to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status, except when alone in a private room. In outdoor spaces, fully vaccinated individuals will not be required to wear a mask.
However, unvaccinated individuals will be required to wear one while outdoors as well as indoors.
“Individuals must wear masks in shared office spaces, meeting rooms, conference rooms, break rooms, classrooms, restroom, elevators, and other spaces with more than one occupant,” stated the email.
The college has also updated protocols in accordance with the New York City Emergency Executive Order 225, stating that all staff at indoor dining spaces, indoor fitness and indoor entertainment are required to be vaccinated. The executive order indicates that a vaccination for COVID-19 is required for indoor entertainment, recreation, dining and fitness settings as well.
Those who are unvaccinated, as per the Emergency Executive Order 225, are not allowed to eat in any of the indoor dining spaces, gyms, or events on campus.
The email also gave an updated percentage of students and employees who have fulfilled their COVID-19 vaccine requirements. With hopeful numbers on the rise at the college, students and faculty are getting ready to return to some kind of normalcy.
“We have excellent news to report, as of today, our community-wide vaccination compliance rate is over 93% and we continue to work towards 100% compliance,” the email stated.
Jonathan Forsyth, a freshman electrical engineering major, is hopeful that he will have a safe semester.
“As a vaccinated student, I’m not concerned about getting COVID, but I hope those who are unvaccinated don’t cause an outbreak and affect the rest of us,” Forsyth said.
Ashley Cross, professor of English and women and gender studies, communicated with The Quadrangle via email regarding her thoughts on the updated steps the college is taking to protect the community.
The decision to reinstate the mask mandate along with many other schools across the country was something that many people anticipated with the growing struggle the nation has been experiencing with the virus.
“I think that not doing so would be remiss as well as unsafe at this point, even with the majority vaccinated,” Cross said regarding the mask mandate.
With precautionary measures at the college, there are still members of the community who have fears regarding the semester.
“I am also very concerned about the increase in COVID cases nationally and breakthrough cases as well as the vulnerability of colleagues, students, and the children of the MC community. We absolutely need to and should be back on campus, but we really need to be prepared for the possibility for further disruptions,” she said.
Despite these fears, Cross is excited to get back to teaching in-person classes and interacting with students, as long as precautionary measures are in place.
As a reminder, the One Manhattan Team shared that there are two ways to report individuals who are not compliant with the COVID-19 regulations.
“In general, our community members have been very good about remembering to wear their masks or are quick to comply when reminded. If, however, a student or employee is non-compliant, they can be referred to the Dean of Students via the Student Violation Form or to Human Resources via the Employee Violation Form.”
The daily symptom tracker, which was used over the last academic year to track exposed students and possible symptoms, was also updated.
“This new and improved tracker features a more user friendly, fast track experience and provides supporting guidance based on your vaccination status and items selected.”
“We are a Lasallian community, which means that we must care for the most vulnerable in our midst,” Cross said.