ISSUE 4: Recent COVID-19 Spikes Cause A Resurgence of Quarantine-Era Making Policies at Many Universities

Omicron subvariants have caused a recent increase in COVID-19 cases, affecting policies at many colleges across the nation.

Vikram Sambasivan, News & Features Editor

In reaction to the recent large spikes in the number of cases of the Omicron subvariants BA.2 and BA.2.12, many universities across the nation have reinstated quarantine-era mask policies as a method of reducing cases. Such universities include, but are not limited to: Columbia University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, University of Rochester, American University, Johns Hopkins University, and more.

In a statement provided by Georgetown University’s Chief of Public Health Officer, Ranit Mishori, he explained the reason for the reinstatement of masking policies, explaining that the new measures are in response to “…significant increases in COVID-19 cases, mainly among undergraduate students.”

Some RHS students, such as Nathan Pham (’22) are in agreement with these policies in the name of public health and safety.  

“I think the mandates are in accordance with recent spikes in covid cases. It seems as though we’ve all forgotten about the pandemic, but it still exists. Masks stop the spread— it’s that simple” said Pham. 

RHS Alumnus Anna Woodward (’21), who currently attends American University (one of the colleges with the strictest COVID-19 regulations), stands in agreement with Pham. 

“I personally wasn’t too bothered by reinstated mask policies, just because I’ve been wearing one in a school setting for so long. I think that for my school specifically it was very extreme in that they went from no requirement to requiring KN95’s everywhere (which is what we started the spring semester with). I would’ve liked to see at least some transition with the option to wear surgical masks since we’re all fully vaccinated and boosted, but that’s my only critique. As someone who is currently infected with what I’m pretty sure is the BA.2 variant though, I think AU made the right call timing-wise” Woodward said. 

As with any issue that deals with one’s own personal rights, the justification of the authority’s right to institute these infringements, in the name of public safety, can be drawn into question.

“It’s hard to define justified in this sense, because if my school really cared about COVID precautions they would’ve established surveillance and even mandatory testing much sooner,” said Woodward. “I think that testing should be the core of the COVID safety approach, rather than flip flopping between mask mandates, just because there’s always going to be people going out, especially in a big city that has not had a mask mandate for a while. Overall I’d still say that colleges are somewhat justified just because they’re trying to keep people safe, even if I don’t fully agree with their approach.”