By Kait Bedell & Ava Neely – News Editor & 1851 Contributor
As the pandemic has changed within the past year and a half, so have the university’s safety guidelines.
Students living in doubles are currently allowed to have two guests in the room and masks are no longer required in buildings for vaccinated students except for in the classroom.
Students who wish to have a guest on campus outside of the Lasell community must register them through MyLasell and upload proof of their vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
Junior Resident Assistant (RA) Emily Hamm commented students have been doing a respectable job abiding by rules.
“We were expecting a lot of partying and craziness because we have two college classes that haven’t experienced ‘college,’” said Hamm. “We had a high expectation that it would be awful, but everyone is doing well.”
Being an RA during the pandemic has added an even greater management role to the job; keeping everyone in line, while also keeping everyone’s health at utmost priority.
“It is definitely a role that is my biggest responsibility,” Hamm said. “I do peer mentoring and I am a writing tutor, but this one holds the most responsibility.
Hamm said that it has been difficult to maintain all of her responsibilities as an RA, but that the lifting of some of the COVID regulations has helped to alleviate some of those duties.
“Testing has been lifted, we used to kind of have to look around at people’s bracelets and keep a mental note if they didn’t have a bracelet,” she said. Also, for the first month no guests were allowed on campus, so we had to check for that.”
Sophomore Maeve Willerup said that the new regulations have also impacted the campus atmosphere.
“This year feels a lot more like college and what college should be,” Willerup said. “Feeling a sense of community and camaraderie is something you can’t experience online and that’s a big part of Lasell’s character.”
Willerup said she thinks the school has done a good job of handling COVID.
“I feel like the current covid regulations are safe and comfortable for everyone,” Willerup said. “I think testing has been the most helpful thing that we’ve had easily accessible on campus.”
Commenting on the work the university has done and continues to do to navigate the pandemic, Hamm had some words of advice as the community moves forward in these uncertain times.
“I think right now it’s a time of change and I think that our campus is trying to adjust to what it once was, I think every- thing has room for improvement,” said Hamm. “It is a matter of if I am not feeling well, it’s my responsibility to take action. It comes down to self-accountability.”
One of the head members of the COVID-19 task force, Director of Health Services Richard Arnold, spoke on the current guidelines on campus, and how these are going to affect the winter sports season coming up.
“The current guidelines on campus are masks in all classrooms and at all publicly accessed events. This includes indoor sports, or any other indoor events. There are no mask mandates for outdoor activities, but we encourage those who want to mask for any reason to feel free to do so,” said Arnold.
“We currently require regular testing for the small number of unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff,” Arnold continued. “They are required to wear a mask indoors at all times. Athletes are being required to test regularly due to the higher risk associated with their sports.”
Arnold also discussed the guidelines for the upcoming indoor sports season. While all the guidelines are not fully solidified yet as the task force moves day by day, Arnold was able to paint a good pic- ture as to what these events will look like.
“While on court players do not have to [wear a] mask, yet on the sidelines an during practices everyone has to [wear a] mask, and the spectators all have to [wear a] mask as well, even with proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test,” Arnold said.
As the weather pushes people indoors, the risk of airborne infection including the flu and other seasonal viruses increases. Lasell mandated the flu vaccine last year, but they did not this year. However, Arnold says it is strongly encouraged. Arnold also made sure to remind the community of the basic precautions to take to avoid illness.
“As we do every winter, we encourage frequent hand washing and to avoid touching your face to limit infection spread,” he said.
The guidelines have changed, yet the COVID-19 task force continues to meet twice a week, reviewing the latest information, data, and research. This helps to interpret how campus data guides upcoming decision making. Arnold says a recent example of this work is dropping mandatory testing for everyone on campus due to the “wonderful job everyone is doing, students, faculty, and staff,” with keeping infection rates low.
Arnold says, “We’re always constantly reevaluating. I don’t anticipate any change in the near future. The ultimate goal is to return as much as possible to a pre-COVID campus culture, while maintaining the safety of our community.”
Arnold then offered some final words of support and advice.
“Thanks for doing your share to keep everybody safe. It is working. Don’t let your guard down, we are not through with this virus.”