Last fall, Northwestern began a new semester unlike any other. Alongside orientation for freshmen, students of all ages were taught the various procedures and guidelines they were expected to follow in order to keep the campus safe from COVID-19 and how to be “Responsible Raiders.”
However, this year, things are looking a lot different. For now, gone is the daily Raider Check app check-in, contact tracing, mask mandate, and social distancing requirement in common spaces. Visitors are allowed in the dorms again and life seems to be returning to a greater semblance of pre-pandemic normal.
For the most part, students are very happy with these changes, especially sophomores whose first year at NW was anything but normal.
Sophomore, Madison DenHerder said, “I’m really excited that we can actually see each other’s faces and interact.”
Another sophomore, Amber Post agreed saying, “It’s a better different.”
Some students, however, have some reservations.
“I worked in healthcare the whole time of COVID-19, so it’s nice to have somewhere that I don’t have to wear a mask,” junior, Emma Franken statesd.
Senior, Jackson Paganini expresses concern about the low population of vaccinated students on campus. He said, “Now I don’t know who has COVID-19, and that’s kind of scary.”
Despite the removal of most COVID-19 mitigation procedures this fall, Julie Elliot, NW’s VP of Student Life, explains that NW is prepared to reinstate necessary COVID-19 measures should the new Delta variant of COVID-19 sweep the campus.
She said, “An infected person will pass [the Delta variant] to eight others on average, compared to 2.5 others with the original strain. So the Delta variant could overrun our campus very quickly and could lead to some serious illness.”
In light of this potential threat, Elliot is continuing to encourage students and faculty to vaccinate themselves against COVID-19.
Elliot said, “The best way for us to avoid this kind of scenario is for as many of our students to be vaccinated as possible.”
In order to provide opportunities for vaccination and to encourage students and faculty to get vaccinated, NW hosted its second vaccine clinic this past week. Elliot shared that 60 individuals were vaccinated with their first dose of the two-part Moderna vaccine.
While the campus had hoped for at least 100 people to attend the clinic, Elliot is satisfied with the turnout.
She said, “Every additional vaccinated person matters.”
It is also important for students and faculty to continue to be vigilant with monitoring potential COVID-19 symptoms and to be responsible by testing themselves should they suspect illness.
Orange City Area Health Systems has free pick-up test kits that can be mailed in. If a positive test occurs, students will be asked to isolate at home for ten days. Students exposed to a positive COVID-19 case should mask and get tested four to five days post-exposure, but the campus is not currently asking these students to quarantine.