COVID cases rise, campus reacts to new policies


Paige O'Connor

CMT drops quarantine requirement

by Sophie Reese, Video Editor

Masking policy on campus increased as COVID cases hit an all-time high this school year.

Cases on campus in the first week of the spring semester surpassed the amount recorded all of last semester. As of Friday, Jan. 17, there have been 70 cases of COVID-19 since Jan. 3. Last semester there were a total of 54. 

With the Omicron variant being much more transmissible, the COVID Management Team (CMT) has made strict changes around campus surrounding masking, quarantine and isolation days as well as testing. 

“We are seeing much more rapid growth of new cases on campus which, again, is exactly what we expected,” COVID Management Team Chair Heidi Levine said. 

With cases rising quickly on campus, some students have begun to grow weary of being sent online.

“I do fear that we’re going to go online because some of my teachers have talked about it. But I’m really hoping that we won’t have to do that,” sophomore Alyssa Dickey said.

Before deciding to move online, the CMT must evaluate a few different areas. 

“One of the most critical things for us to be watching is our capacity to quarantine and isolate students on campus,” Levine said. “We are strongly encouraging students who need to isolate or quarantine to do so at home, but we know that some students can’t for a variety of reasons. And we need to make sure that we don’t run out of space to do that.”

Simpson will also be evaluating the positivity rate of COVID cases on campus now that the testing protocols have changed. 

“We’re revisiting how we calculate that, but starting next week, we’ll start to report that back up to the campus as well,” Levine said.

The new changes on campus added with the high positivity rate has made some students feel like they’re moving backward.

“It does put you down a little bit when you realize that we’re going to go back to campus and we’re not going to see anybody’s faces again. It was something that we were looking forward to,” first-year Tanith Norris said.

Levine said she understood the feelings of frustration that students are experiencing. 

“I think we’re all frustrated about it, frankly. I mean, COVID fatigue is real, and it is affecting every one of us,” Levine said.

With having a rough start to the semester, Norris believes that the situation is being handled well.

“I really admire Simpson’s handling of the pandemic and the strategies we use on campus to combat whatever’s happening in the world right now,” Norris said. 

 Even with a stressful beginning to a new semester, some choose to stay positive.

“I’m just taking it day by day hoping for the best, doing my part so hopefully, hopefully this can end some time before my sophomore year,” Norris said.