By Kaie Quiqley, Taylor Viles & Rayana Petrone – Features Editor, Sports Editor & 1851 Contributor
Students will have to adapt to a slew of changes in order to ensure their learning continues this fall at Lasell University. The Department of Health Services has worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of every member of the community. The university is committed to providing the best possible in-person experience for new and returning students, and has put together a plan that has resulted in very low COVID cases on campus thus far.
Lasell uses two programs to monitor COVID-19 on campus: Broad Institute for testing, and the CoVerified app for contact tracing and symptom reporting. According to Director of Health Services Richard Arnold, Lasell chose the Broad Institute because “they offered…a quick turn around time of 24 hours or less for results,” he said. Broad Institute was also a better option for the university to be able to cover the cost of testing its community.
“If you are able to test with certain frequency, the hope is that you can actually identify positive cases before they actually are infectious,” said Arnold on why Lasell tests its resident students and other community members twice a week.
In addition to being tested often, students on campus use the CoVerified app to report their symptoms daily. If this precaution is not taken, students become “restricted,” which prevents them from attending class in-person or accessing other offices and activities on campus.
In the event of positive cases, the university has set aside rooms to quarantine and isolate in Chandler House, Keever House and Holt Hall. These rooms were chosen per the Department of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control guidelines that state individuals in isolation need access to their own private bathroom.
Regardless of a positive or negative test, residents in buildings must abide by a set of rules crafted with the safety of the community in mind. Each student that returned to campus this fall was required to sign the Resident Pledge. By signing the pledge, students agree to not allow visitors or guests in their room or on campus.
“We understand that it’s definitely not ideal to have restrictions on who can go into each other’s rooms, or limiting who can go into buildings,” said Area Coordinator Amanda Smolenski, “but we wanted everyone to be able to stay here as long as possible and to be as safe as possible.”
Students can however congregate in groups of less than 25 as long as they are in a common area. “You can [physically] distance a lot easier when you’re in a larger room rather than a smaller room,” said Smolenski. “A lot of our typical residence rooms are made for two people, rather than our common spaces that are made for a larger group.”
Common areas have been set up outside on campus to give students opportunities to socialize or eat, as the Valentine Dining Hall has severely limited its seating options. Students are also unable to serve themselves — the dining hall staff serves food at each station. Other safety measures include disposable food containers which students are encouraged to carry in reusable bags that were provided by the school at this year’s U Belong event on September 22.
“We used the Path to Open plan that provided resources myself and the team here at Lasell could easily implement,” said Director of Dining Services Michael Quackenbush. “These resources included additional safety measures like signage and floor decals, health plexi shields and face coverings. Each decision had to reflect the current phase Massachusetts was in.”
Students also have limited options for food as 1851, the late-night meal option is no longer in service at night. 1851 still serves food during the day but ordering now takes place exclusively through the Boost app on mobile devices. According to Quackenbush, this was done to prevent lines from forming and gatherings from happening in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The Resident Pledge states that all students “have a critical role in Lasell University’s culture of health and well-being, in maintaining the health and safety of all students, staff, and faculty on campus and of people in the community, and in the university’s ability to stay open as a residential campus.”
“It is so vital that the students take accountability into their own hands and understand that we all need to do our part, we all need to wear a mask, we all need to wash our hands… in order to prevent an outbreak on our campus,” said Smolenski. “As long as people are continuing to wear their masks, to keep their distance as necessary, and to regularly get tested twice a week through health services, it could be a possibility that we move towards lessening the rules in the future.”