University takes precautions amid COVID-19 case increase


Photo credit/ Jeremy Stanton

The university requested that students complete a survey to gauge opinions on COVID-19 protocols, campus life and the HyBridge Education Model.

Ellen Frantz and Michael Kelley

For the week of Feb. 22, Marywood University moved all classes online.

Pandemic Coordinator Dr. Yerodin Lucas explained that the decision to go online for the week was due to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

“The decision to go online for a week came from a sudden spike in positive [COVID-19] cases and through contact tracing,” said Lucas. “A number of individuals were found to be positive and a number of individuals were exposed and went into either quarantine or isolation if they were positive.”

Lucas explained that other universities have also previously taken this action.

According to Lucas, the exact cause of the spike in COVID-19 cases is unknown. However, Lucas said that it is likely due to large gatherings of students.

Students return home while classes are online

On Feb. 22, Lucas sent an email to students with travel information for students who planned to return home during the week of online classes.

The email stated that students should “remain in their current locations.” The email also noted that students who travel out of state must provide a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before returning to the Commonwealth or quarantine for 10 days.

Sophomore Musical Theatre major Leanne Onofrio said the decision to go online for a week was confusing.

“It doesn’t make sense to me,” said Onofrio. “If we couldn’t have a week-long spring break [due to COVID-19 concerns], then why were we given a week off now?”

Previously, the university announced that students would not have a spring break for fear that they would bring the virus back to campus.

Students express concerns over quarantine and isolation

The spring 2021 plan from the university states that students who need to isolate on campus will be moved to a designated room while they are in isolation. Students in quarantine must stay in their assigned room.

Sophomore Education major Emily Dyminski lives in the Woodlands Apartments next to a designated isolation room. She said she has noticed people coming and going from the room.

“It is irresponsible and inconsiderate for them to jeopardize other people’s college experience,” said Dyminski.

Lucas said there is a difference between isolation and quarantine. Those in isolation are the students who test positive and cannot leave unless it is for an important reason.

Lucas explained that students in quarantine have previously come into contact with students carrying COVID-19. These students are waiting to see if symptoms arise and should limit their contact with other people.

“[The students in quarantine and isolation] should not be going out unless it is absolutely necessary,” said Lucas. “[The dining service] has made provisions to deliver food to the residence halls for these students who are in quarantine or isolation. If you’re seeing some students [leaving their isolation rooms], it may be because it’s necessary.”

Housing and Residence Life asks students to move dorms

Students living in the left, first-floor wing of Madonna Hall received a phone call on Feb. 18 from Director of Housing and Residence Life Tyler Ward. Ward asked the students if they would consider moving dorms to make space for more quarantine rooms.

Fourth-Year Architecture major Jonathan Santamire was one of the students asked to consider moving.

”I understand the decision, but it really sucks being the ones who have to move,” stated Santamire.

Lucas said the university began designating more dorms for isolation due to the spike in COVID-19 cases. Additionally, Lucas said the university is working to support isolating students while also protecting others in the community.

“Of course [for the] students in isolation who were found to be positive, we try to make sure they are as comfortable as possible in a space where they can go through the 14-day period they need to go through,” said Lucas.

Madonna Hall Residence Director Keshia Vilchert explained that she supports the university in planning more quarantine spaces.

“I feel that preparing more isolation/quarantine spaces is extremely proactive, especially when considering the rise in covid exposure on our campus. This shows the priority being placed on the safety and well-being of our students,” said Vilchert. “However, this does not take away the difficulties of making physical changes during the school year and the inconveniences that may come along with that.”

The Marywood community looks to the future

In a memo released on Feb. 23, Marywood President Sr. Mary Persico, IHM, Ed.D confirmed that the university will return to the HyBridge Education model on March 1.

Lucas said the university will follow the same procedures. However, Lucas noted that those who did not follow the guidelines will face repercussions.

“From my understanding, there might be some students being brought through the conduct system because of decisions that they’ve made,” said Lucas. “But the guidelines are the guidelines and they haven’t changed.”

Lucas also noted that everyone should follow the guidelines to ensure a successful semester.

“Everyone, students, faculty and staff, should adhere to the CDC guidelines,” said Lucas. “The rules and the guidelines have not changed people just need to be sure they are adhering to them.”

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Twitter: @mkelleyww, @EllenFrantzTWW