Returning to Campus Was Not Smart; It Still Isn't

By: Sarah Brill  |  December 20, 2020

By Sarah Brill, Science and Technology Editor

One of the most infuriating mentalities is that we are safe. We have become accustomed to leaving our houses unmasked which somehow became safe. Somehow, we think we are immune to everything and anything. Somehow, in our mind, this pandemic is over. Somehow, a video from the school telling us that coming to campus is safe, makes it safe. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is not. 

One story I have heard most often at Yeshiva University is the fact that faculty feel the need to come to campus, then persuade students to come to their classrooms so that they are not teaching an empty room. In one instance, an anonymous person was in Zoom class and the professor noted that they were in the dorms, and that they should come to class. This particular person, opposed to going into physical class due to COVID risk, decided to stay in their dorm room, yet was called out for doing so. Honestly this behavior, from a professor, is absurd. Professors should not only be encouraging students to stay safe and socially distant, but they should encourage students to do what is in their best  interests. I constantly wonder whether this university is doing what is in the best interest of the students. It is understandable; the university, along with many other universities, both in the area and out of state, are suffering major financial losses due to the shutdown in March, and now the lack of attendance on campus. Will the school put safety over profit? 

With the Thanksgiving holiday just a few weeks behind us, many government officials warn of a second spike, and with the holidays upon us, things are not set to improve. One of the many problems with students returning from Thanksgiving back to campus and traveling home for Hanukkah is that despite the warning issued by the school not to go to COVID-rich areas, many students still went and socialized, risking the safety of their roommates and the faculty on campus. 

On the New York State COVID-19 Tracker from dates November 21 to December 4, there were 17 positive COVID-19 cases. These cases are only the initial reports after Thanksgiving. It is hard to tell how much this number will increase in the coming weeks, but with the size of our school, and the amount of travel many of the students partake in over Shabbat, cases could rise fast and suddenly. The most recent report, dated December 5-18, shows 24 positive cases. 

In NYC, COVID-19 cases were at the highest peak since April, hitting roughly 5,000 new cases in one day. Governor Cuomo reacted quickly and immediately shut down the public schools located in NYC to prevent teachers, faculty, and parents of students from contracting this deadly virus. The United States alone hit a benchmark of over 13.4 million confirmed cases. These are just the facts,  and the sad reality is our school has made no move to adjust protocol to these new and heightened cases. 

Of course, our school is doing everything in its power to prevent a spread on our campus. Classrooms are socially distanced, masks are required in all buildings, and a safety check is required before entering the buildings. So yes, our school is doing their best to fit their interests, but sometimes, the personal best is not the answer for all of us.