Jaspers Return from Spring Break with Precautions: A COVID-19 Update

By, Nicole Fitzsimmons, News Editor

As students return to campus from spring break, OneManhattan is preparing to stay cautious while re-evaluating certain protocols on campus as city and state restrictions decrease. 

In an email titled “A Note Before Spring Break” from OneManhattan sent on March 10, the school encouraged students to get tested before returning home for break or after their arrival back on campus.

“We will be continuing on-campus COVID-19 testing after spring break, at least through Thursday, March 31. The rationale for testing is to see if there is an increase in positive cases after a significant portion of our population will have traveled during the break,” the email stated.

However, on Thursday, March 31, the college’s revaluation of COVID-19 protocols will take place.

 “We will be re-evaluating our protocols on March 31, 2022 after everyone comes back and is integrated back into our campus community,” Esmilda Abreu-Hornbostel, Ph.D., interim vice president of student life and OneManhattan, wrote to the Quadrangle. “We will be evaluating CDC, New York State and New York City guidelines as well our own campus data to determine what changes can or should be implemented after March 31, 2022.”

The email sent on March 10 included other factors which will impact the evaluation process.

“After spring break, we will evaluate our current on-campus case numbers and any related severe illnesses,” the email stated. “We will also evaluate the number of cases and hospitalizations in our area. With that information in hand, and before the end of the month, we will determine whether on-campus testing and the indoor mask mandate will continue.

While these protocols are being evaluated, Abreu-Hornbostel wrote to the Quadrangle that COVID-19 is not completely over. Therefore, certain measures must remain in place to ensure the community is safe from the potential of the spread of the virus.

Abreu-Hornbostel included a few examples of these measures and, for example, wrote how, “Boosters continue to be encouraged,” “Symptom trackers should be filled in every day throughout the semester,” and that “Good communication with Contact Tracing and Health Services is a must.”

Other measures include good hygiene (hand washing and keeping your personal space clean), COVID-19 social etiquette (sneezing into your elbow, minding our space, wearing a mask if you have symptoms), staying up to date with college announcements and staying informed on city-wide statistics and measures.

She further states despite decisions being made, the college will remain a place where masks are accepted.

“We will continue to be a mask-friendly campus, so you should not hesitate to wear your mask when you feel you should, such as in public crowded spaces,” Abreu-Hornbostel wrote.

The college is encouraging healthy conversation amongst students, staff and administrators regarding the changes. Pete McHugh, director of media relations and strategic communications, further explained the mask-friendly message the college is encouraging on campus in a meeting with OneManhattan on March 2, where student government, professors, and administrators met to discuss protocols the day specific mandates were lifted in New York.

“I think as communicators, I think that part’s particularly important. You know, if we were to move to masks optional, we’re saying it’s your option. You have the option to either remove it or you have the option to keep it on for as long as you’d like. And, also doing education around the fact that you’re protected if you’re wearing a high grade mask, regardless of what anybody else is doing around you,” McHugh said.

Amongst further questions and changes, the college is ready to see the community together and healthy following their time off.

“We are aiming for a sustainable, healthy, vibrant campus where we support and care for one another,” Abreu-Hornbostel said. “We are committed to well-being and flourishing in the face of a very difficult time. We are excited to welcome everyone back and hear all your stories of travel and family. We have missed seeing all your lovely faces on campus during this break!”