CMT reflects on another semester of COVID-19 requirements and potential changes for next semester

by Amelia Schafer, Editor-in-Chief

This semester, Simpson College’s campus reported a total of 47 cases of COVID-19 from Aug. 23 to Dec. 2. Student vaccination rates also slowly rose from 65% to 79% by the end of the semester. 

On Dec. 3, the COVID Management Team announced that masks would only be required in classrooms. Prior to the announcement, masks were required at events and in classrooms. 

“With this change masks at events and unless otherwise specified masks are recommended but not required,” CMT chair Heidi Levine said. “And if there is an event, there would be a section of seating where masks would be required for any event where mask use isn’t being required. They need to provide that space.” 

Levine said that from CMT’s perspective, the semester has gone relatively well. COVID-19 rates have remained low all semester, the highest positivity rate being 3% on Sept. 2. 

By comparison, a total of 61 cases were reported last semester. 129 cases were reported in Fall 2020. 

“I think our low positivity rate all semester has been great, and especially when you take into account that over the course of the semester, the community transmission rate has been up and down,” Levine said. 

Leading into the next semester, students will no longer have the opportunity to win $200 for being vaccinated. The get the vaccine, win some green program that provided five randomly selected students each week with $200 was only for the first semester of the 2021-2022 school year. 

Levine said she predicts that the current mask policy will remain in place leading into the spring semester. 

Another change that may come into effect is a new policy from the Occupational Safety and Health and Administration requiring that non-vaccinated employees must wear a mask and be tested weekly. Any infraction results in a $14,000 fine to the company or institution that individual works for. CMT has drafted an email that will be sent to the campus community should this new policy come into effect. 

The Student Government Association misreported in their Dec. 1 meeting that CMT was drafting a policy in response to the OSHA requirements. 

“It’s not something that we would want to mess around with and it would apply to all employees and so for a college that would mean student employees, as well as faculty and staff,” Levine said. “So we have drafted a policy procedural guidelines regarding those to meet those OSHA requirements.” 

OSHA’s mandate is currently blocked and is being processed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.