What should Le Moyne expect as SU sees a spike in COVID-19 cases?

Cosette Myrick, Staff Writer

With a time that would typically be spring break right around the corner, many college campuses are seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases. This includes Le Moyne’s neighbor school, Syracuse University. With over 200 active cases, Syracuse University has chosen to halt in-person dining and access to lounges. Should Le Moyne students expect an increase in COVID-19 cases here in the Heights and tightened restrictions on campus? Here’s what we found out.

Syracuse University and Le Moyne College have very different testing requirements for their students. Prior to the increase of cases, SU students were only required to get tested once a week. The tests were saliva tests and gave results back in over 24 hours. This kind of testing can cause contagious students to infect other students, making contact tracing more difficult and increasing isolation and quarantine numbers.

Le Moyne had the same type of testing schedule during the Fall 2020 semester, but adjusted it for the Spring 2021 semester. Currently students need to be tested twice a week with rapid tests. Students are notified within 30 minutes of the test if they need to quarantine. This allows for less contact of infected students, and therefore fewer COVID cases on campus. Although this may help Le Moyne in keeping campus cases low, this may not be the only reason Le Moyne is doing better than their neighbors in managing COVID-19.

Ranked by the Princeton Review as the country’s top party school in 2019, many students come from around the world for SU’s academics, with a side of the party scene. “I think cases are on the rise at SU mostly because the weather is nicer so it makes people want to go out and do things again. It also allows for parties and gatherings to be outside to have more space and by extension more people can go,” said Kendra Broddus, a freshman studying Broadcast Digital Journalism at the Syracuse University’s Newhouse School. “With Syracuse being in the tournament that’s exciting for everyone and people definitely want to celebrate.”

Students have definitely been celebrating. Last month, three parties associated with sororities and fraternities on campus led to 20 positive COVID-19 cases. One of the chapters was suspended in the process, and the students face disciplinary action. The exact disciplinary action was not mentioned in the statement released by Robert D. Hradsky, the Vice President of Student Experience at Syracuse University. The week of March 17th, Syracuse announced they were halting in-person dining and increasing testing to twice a week in an attempt to curb rising COVID-19 cases, but reducing cases won’t happen until students truly follow social distancing guidelines. On March 21st, large groups of students gathered to celebrate the wins of the basketball teams. Very few were wearing masks, and SU leadership warned that in-person classes may be halted if super-spreader events continue. Despite repeated large unauthorized gatherings, SU continues to have in-person classes.

The increase in restrictions on college campuses only frustrate students who follow the COVID-19 guidelines of wearing masks and social distancing. Broddus, who lives on campus in university housing said, “Because I live in a dorm, there are a lot more restrictions on me than upperclassmen living off-campus. It was definitely harder to meet friends because of all the restrictions, like only four people in a dorm room and not going into other dorm buildings.”

Le Moyne students are no stranger to the feeling of social isolation due to the coronavirus. Last semester, due to advocacy on the students behalf from SGA, freshmen students were allowed to visit each other in dorms, with restrictions. Upperclassmen students, as of last week, are now able to visit their friends in dorm and apartment buildings during certain days and hours, but must check in with the Resident Advisor on duty before going in.

Le Moyne students have gained the trust of administrators to allow for less restrictive abilities, while SU is moving in the opposite direction. This is shown in how faculty and administration talk about Le Moyne’s students.

“I’m extremely proud of how Le Moyne students have responded to the many challenges brought on by the pandemic, both this semester and in the fall. Our low positivity rate is a direct reflection on them and their ongoing compliance with public health interventions such as regular testing, wearing face coverings, staying physically distant and avoiding social gatherings,” said Scott Peterson, director of Le Moyne’s COVID office. “I am proud that they continue to follow the guidelines we have put in place, so they can continue their education through our blend of in-person and hybrid classes and experiences.”

Le Moyne encourages students to follow social distancing guidelines, get their weekly testing, and wear masks.