A COVID-19 update was emailed to students on Sept. 16 concerning the number of cases at Castleton University thus far, the number of vaccinated students, and the mask policy on campus. After a few short interviews with some students at the university, it is easily discovered that people seem to have similar opinions on the topics broached within the update email.
When asked how students feel about the COVID-19 cases and the mask mandate at Castleton, one student who chose to remain anonymous said they had mixed feelings on the nine cases the campus has seen this semester.
“Part of me is glad that the case number is as low as it is—but I would, of course, prefer it if that number was lower due to all of the COVID variants. As for the mask mandate, my main concern about it is people on campus not taking it seriously,” the student said. “Especially with all of the students that don’t wear their masks properly, even after they have been asked to or reprimanded about it several times.”
This opinion on the number of cases seemed to be quite common among students. When another anonymous source was asked the same question, they too, voiced these fears.
“I’m just glad that they aren’t in crazy numbers compared with the rest of the country. I think we can always do better with managing it, but as it is, we’re handling it pretty well,” the second anonymous student said.
In terms of idea that a mask mandate is necessary, yet another student on campus shared this opinion as well—Eli Kochalka, a first-year majoring in political science here at Castleton.
“I guess I would say that I’m glad that we have some level of mask mandate so there aren’t any more cases,” Kochalka said.
It seems fairly safe to say that students, staff, and faculty, all want one another to stay safe during these trying times. The real difficulty when it comes to understanding how Castleton is doing pandemic-wise really seems to come in when the data is brought into it. Try as one might, it can be hard to understand what the COVID updates mean for the student body.
Thankfully enough, there is a very good resource for this information on campus, and his name is Dennis Proulx. As many Castleton students know, Dennis Proulx is the Dean of Students at the university, but on top of that he is also the chair of the school’s emergency management team and a part of the president’s cabinet—the two main entities making decisions on Castleton’s COVID-19 response.
“I think that nine COVID cases is a manageable number,” Proulx said when asked what his thoughts were on the positive cases. “Transmission has not occurred in our classrooms or our athletic facilities, and to me, that says we’re doing okay.”
Dean Proulx was also happy to let the student body know that he understands where they are coming from in terms of the mask wearing fatigue that he’s seen around campus.
“I know people are weary, they’re tired of wearing masks, and I need them to see something that says, ‘We’re going to continue’. We know that there’s fatigue with masks, there’s fatigue on wearing them, there’s fatigue on enforcing them, and with any policy like this one that’s bound to happen, but we can’t give up,” Proulx said.
Thankfully, there is some good news regarding the COVID-19 status on Campus, because as Dean Proulx mentioned in the COVID update email he sent out a few weeks ago, there is an over 90% vaccination rate here currently. This number is a fair amount higher than what scientists predicted would allow for “herd immunity.”
Of course, there is no telling what issues the pandemic might bring up in the future, but for now it seems safe to say that as long as people continue to act as a community who cares for one another the way that they have thus far, everyone will continue to thrive at Castleton.