CMT meets with students to address COVID concerns


Riley Fletcher

Senior class president Korie Torres spoke out about her concerns regarding COVID-19 policies at the Jan. 26 meeting with members of CMT.

by Riley Fletcher, Website Editor

Three members of the COVID Management Team (CMT) met with students to discuss COVID protocols during Wednesday night’s Student Government Association meeting in Hubbell Hall. 

CMT chair Heidi Levine, faculty chair Amy Doling and Dean John Woell took turns answering questions and listening to the concerns of students regarding COVID policies and CMT. 

As the number of COVID cases has exceeded the school’s previous record from Fall 2020, some students are becoming increasingly concerned with Simpson’s COVID policies, especially as quarantine is no longer required for students following close contact with someone positive with COVID-19.

A total of 133 members of the Simpson College community have tested positive since Jan. 3. This is the highest amount of positive cases of COVID-19 on Simpson’s Campus thus far. The previous record was 128 during the entire Fall 2020 semester. 

Students have been quick to point out that, according to Simpson’s four-phase model published on their website, the school should transition to the orange phase from the yellow phase. The trigger to orange from yellow is supposed to happen when the campus positivity rate is over 10% for 3-5 days. The campus positivity rate had held steady at 11% since Jan. 17, increasing to 15% on Jan. 24 and remaining at 15% as of Jan. 26 and 28. 

However, Levine cleared the air at the Jan. 26 meeting, saying the four-phase model on the website is inaccurate and apologized for the confusion it caused.

“The color-coded phases and metrics from moving from one phase to another were developed about a year ago when things were really different than they are right now,” Levine said. “We were dealing with different variants that spread differently and also were different in terms of the consequences that they were causing.”

Other universities around the country, such as Drake University in Des Moines, decided to go online temporarily, given the rising number of COVID cases in Iowa and across the nation. Simpson, however, is not going to go online without a fight.

“CMT has been regularly watching what’s happening around us and what’s happening on campus,” Levine said. “We have talked a lot about our test positivity rate, about what’s happening with our spaces on campus, and what would the conditions be that would move us to taking the kind of action we did back in March 2020, shutting things down and going remote. It’s been pretty clear that it would take a lot to shut us down and go remote.”

Some students like sophomore Katie Stefanick were frustrated with how the meeting went, saying they felt unheard by the members of CMT. 

“First and foremost, I think the CMT’s job should be to listen to the concerns of students,” Stefanick said. “And from what I heard last night, I don’t think they really take student concerns seriously. I mean, the students are what keep this college open. The least they could do is have more student input from people who are on campus 24/7.”

Though thankful to have the meeting, senior class president Korie Torres said she was disappointed with the outcome.

“I feel as though the members of CMT were redundant with their answers and did not understand the validity within our frustrations,” Torres said. “I don’t think anyone left the meeting satisfied, and no one was put at ease with the explanations of CMT’s ‘COVID mitigation strategies.’”

First-year class senator Kyle Werner shares Torres’s sentiment.

“The meeting was meant for students to have a chance to be vocal about COVID on campus, and all I felt afterward was unease and helplessness—it wasn’t very satisfying to hear that not a whole lot is being done for COVID prevention and mitigation,” Werner said.

Senior class senator Tatum Clayburn took to the mic at the meeting and expressed her disappointment with CMT. The only student representatives on CMT are the SGA president and vice president, Frank Cruz and Will Keck. 

“Why aren’t you listening to students,” Clayburn asked at the meeting. “We have two people on that board—we have two students, everybody else on that board goes home. No offense, but in this instance, students’ voices matter a lot more than yours. We’re the ones being directly impacted by this. It really seems like you do not care at all about your students.”

Not all reactions were negative, though, as some students praised CMT for their work throughout the pandemic.

“I appreciate all that CMT has done and continues to realize and support about in-person learning,” junior Chase Henry commented on the livestream of the event.

Anyone who could not attend the meeting but wishes  to watch it, can access the livestream on the Simpson College Student Government Association Facebook page @Simpsonsga.