New quarter, new protocols

SPU details new COVID-19 procedures for students returning to campus

Kyle Morrison, News Editor

Provost Laura Hartley and Vice Provost for Student Formation Jeff Jordan, sent an email out to the SPU community on Friday December 18 detailing new procedures to limit the spread of COVID-19 for students returning to campus. 

The administration is hoping that students prepare to return on January 4th, which is the move-in date for winter quarter, by isolating themselves from everyone besides their immediate family members the week before coming back to school.

“The way this works is if people own it,” Vice Provost of Student Formation Jeff Jordan said. “There’s two things that are working for us, I think on this. The first is that our students really did take it seriously in the fall quarter for the most part … and so my hope is that people will continue to do that. The other thing we have going for us is the age group, I mean it’s the healthiest age group for the most part out there.”

Jordan did acknowledge that the period in which students are traveling back to campus will be a vulnerable time for the administration’s plan. 

Senior Annie Symons doesn’t think this plan makes much sense.

“I think that asking students to quarantine for seven days before coming back to campus, there’s no accountability there,” Symons explained in a phone call. “How are they supposed to know if students remained in their household for seven days or not?”

Students who feel sick, have come into contact with someone who has had COVID-19, or have tested positive for the virus after December 25 are instructed to delay their return to SPU until an appropriate return date can be arranged with the Dean of Students for Community Life Chuck Strawn.

COVID-19 testing will not only be offered to every student, it will be mandatory during the first week of classes. SPU employees will be testing every on campus individual over a schedule that will be released later this month. This is a major change from fall quarter, where only students reporting symptoms and athletes were offered tests by the University.

“Fall quarter we didn’t have this possibility because testing was just not available during that time period,” Jordan said. “What’s happened over the last 2-3 months time period is testing has become available.”

Jordan explained that the BinaxNow COVID-19 Ag tests were supplied to the university by the State of Washington.

Senior Bea Bouman, who resigned her position as an RA last quarter due to her frustrations with the administration’s handling of the virus, is happy that testing is now being offered, but is also upset that it took this long to come to fruition.

“While testing students upon return to campus is obviously the right decision to keep campus safe, this announcement feels like a slap in the face to someone who had multiple conversations with various administrators in the fall asking for testing and campus protections and was told it was, ‘never going to happen,’ or that it wasn’t ‘feasible.” Bouman explained over email.

Freshman Stephanie Menegon is thankful for the new testing policy and winter quarter containment procedures.

“I have a roommate and I would feel like the worst person if I got her sick, so I appreciate them testing us because I honestly don’t care if I get sick, but could you imagine being the reason someone got it?” Menegon said over email.  “I think it’s good [SPU] is being careful with everything and wants the campus to be safe.”

Indoor dining will not be allowed anywhere on campus including in Gwinn and Upper Gwinn. Meals will be takeout only and students are allowed to eat outside, much like the beginning of fall quarter. This is in reaction to state wide restrictions on indoor dining that expire on January 4th.

Campus wide restrictions will return to the same level of strictness of fall quarter, at least for the first week. Residents will be required to follow SPU directives for limited interactions. According to Hartley and Jordan this means that residents will only be allowed to go to class, pick up meals, or attend internships/jobs.

Mask requirements will remain the same as fall quarter and residents will not be allowed to have any visitors in their room for the first week. Hall and floor lounges in dorm halls will also remain closed. 

“We hope that as we settle into Winter Quarter we will be able to relax some of the restrictions on social gatherings and indoor dining, but this will depend on the results of testing, state and local restrictions, and our ability as a campus to consistently practice health precautions,” Hartley and Jordan said at the end of the email.