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Uprising of COVID at Ottawa University

By Kylee Weber
On October 2, 2020

Graphic by Kylee Weber

Over the course of the past couple of weeks the amount of quarantined students rose drastically. Several sports have had a team quarantine beginning on Sept. 14. This has created an upsurge in cases on campus and the amount of students needing to be quarantined. The school has taken action of canceling several extracurricular events, limiting bistro hours, shortening practices, canceling scrimmages and sending out several emails reminding students to mask up and be safe.

Each day we continue to get updates about what is happening and more limitations that students and staff have. The school put out a public statement sharing that if one athlete on a team tests positive for COVID-19, for precaution, the entire team will have a 10-14 day quarantine. Several teams fear that they are next to be quarantined. 


Athletes from several teams are showing symptoms. Eventually, we may undergo a school body quarantine. Many have been asking the question, “How did we get here?” or “What do we do to protect ourselves?” and “How can we stop the spread?” All of these questions are important to the students and staff because this is still something new to all of us. These are questions that we do not know the answers to; every day something changes. In one weekend, COVID-19 cases skyrocketed, changing the university’s course of action. Over the past several days, limitations have increased to no extra curricular activities, no sports practicing and several more teams in isolation and quarantine. 


But let’s try to answer these questions.


How Did We Get Here? 

At the beginning of the semester, Ottawa University was optimistic about the guidelines they have put in place. The university believed it could avoid an outbreak, much like the one we are encountering now. This begins with day one. The moment students arrived on campus,  some did not take the pandemic seriously, and many still don’t. People chose to break and manipulate guidelines for their convenience without understanding the consequences that could occur. Each day students are required to go through a daily questionnaire and get screened on campus to receive a colored wristband. These wristbands are unique each day and allow students access on campus, class, bistro and practice/activities. However, many students have found ways to manipulate the system. This manipulation can occur in several ways such as lying on the questionnaire about the symptoms, reusing wrist bands, not going to screening stations and skipping screenings all together. This is a crucial step for the university to track and limit exposure of COVID-19. When students make the conscious choice of manipulating the system, it puts not only themselves at risk but other students and staff as well. 


Another addition to getting to the extreme situation we are in currently is students breaking the guidelines of isolation and quarantine. It is important to understand the difference between isolation and quarantine. Quarantine is when you have been exposed to someone with a positive test and are confined to living quarters for 10-14 days. Quarantine is for people who have a negative test or are showing symptoms of COVID-19. Isolation is when a student or staff member tests positive and are strictly confined to their room for 10-14 days. To be cleared from quarantine, the person must be symptom- and fever-free for at least 24 hours. Several students have made the decision to break quarantine and isolation guidelines to go out and run errands and see other students. This has caused an exposure rate of COVID-19 to grow exponentially. This also creates a difficult situation for the university when attempting to do contact tracing. 


What Do We Do To Protect Ourselves? 

To some this seems like a plain and simple answer: WEAR A MASK. Although this is a small part of protecting yourself, there is so much we as a student body can do to protect ourselves. To start the process of protecting yourself, wash your hands for at least two minutes with soap and warm water. I usually sing a song in my head (or the chorus about five times) and call it good. This allows me to ensure that my hands are clean and that whatever germs were on them have vanished. Next is to limit your social circle. This is most likely the hardest one for all of us to follow since we are in college and have a social life. To do this, limit the amount of people you come in contact with on a daily basis if possible. The best way to accomplish this is to think of a sport and activity that you absolutely have to come in contact with on a daily basis, and slowly expand from there. If you live on campus, limit the people that come into your living area, and if you live off campus, try not to come on campus unless needed. I am not saying to vanish and lock yourself in your room. This is something that is different for every college student; we need to be aware of our surroundings and understand that this is a pandemic. It is a scary time for all of us, but if we stick together and work hard at these small tasks, we can limit ourselves to exposure. 


How Can We Stop The Spread? 

Stopping the spread starts with oneself. If you are feeling under the weather and are showing any of the signs, play it safe and stay home! I understand that we are all college students and that online classes are difficult, but everyone will thank you in advance for protecting them and others. Another way to stop the spread is implementing and following the guidelines and resources that Ottawa University has put in place for students. Utilize the screening station. We recognize this is not convenient to students, but it allows protection to the staff and students around campus. With the screening station follow one simple rule: Tell the truth! Lying on the daily questionnaire only hurts you and those around you. It is so much easier to think about each question and answer honestly if you have any of the symptoms. The screening station takes a maximum of five minutes. Go to the school, answer the questions and WEAR your wristband. This small task will limit the exposure to others and eliminate the domino effect that is currently happening at the university. 

The Campus is here for you and the safety of our campus, we will continue to update the student body with different changes that are occurring and how it might affect your routine. A friendly reminder is to mask up, wash hands, limit social events and be smart! If these small guidelines are not implemented, the likelihood of us returning home and canceling sports will arrive again. As a senior, I am begging you to implement these small tools in your daily routine and let the athletes play, let the clubs host events, let the professors teach us in person. None of us want to go online and be back home in our bedrooms attending Zoom meetings.

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