The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been on the mind of everyone since its unwelcome emergence in early 2020. Since then, scientists and health officials have become aware of the pandemic’s magnitude and the rate at which it continues to spread. Mitigation techniques, such as social distancing, mask wearing and quarantines have been employed to slow the spread of the virus. Thus, it should be understood that improper execution of such measures will directly correlate with increases in COVID-19 cases and restrictive decrees by the University.
Here at Fairfield University, the aforementioned mandates, and other directives, are in effect to protect the community at large. Despite this, there has been an unfortunate spike of COVID-19 cases near the widely popular beach area.
In response, vice president of student life, Karen Donoghue, sent the following in an email on Oct. 9: “Effective at 8p.m. this evening, Off Campus Boarders (i.e., beach students), are restricted from campus and associated class related off campus sites for the next 14 days, through October 23rd.”
In the email’s essence, Fairfield University’s students living at or around the beach area are barred from entering campus until Oct. 24. In the meantime, these students will be taking their classes remotely.
Senior beach resident Kristen Boyle shared her thoughts from a student’s perspective.
“I was really upset when I first heard the news about Fairfield’s decision to ban off-campus students from campus. It’s a difficult time in the semester, with midterms, to not be able to do work or study on campus and I was upset because even though my roommates and I were all negative we were still forced to quarantine.”
Boyle included that while she is unhappy with these circumstances, she understands that the University is making decisions that prioritize the safety of its students and the weakening of the virus.
The increase in cases, and the resultant action by the University should not come as a surprise. It is impossible to control every individual in a given area and it is idealistic to expect full cooperation for practicing public health guidelines. People come from varying places and backgrounds, and some interpret restrictions on their everyday lives as a threat to their freedom entitled to them as Americans. Even if these sorts of people are an anomaly, the negligence of one person can lead to the infection of hundreds.
It should be noted that this is not a criticism of Fairfield University’s students exclusively. Upon speaking to Boyle, she made it clear that the beach environment has been “really quiet” and she has not seen her friends or classmates around.
“The few students I have seen walking around Lantern Point have all been wearing masks…The senior class took Friday’s email very seriously and has done a great job respecting the rules put in place by the University,” Boyle said.
It is important to recognize that students are not the only ones to blame. The beach area is also home to numerous Fairfield County residents who reside there permanently, all of whom have their own obligations and agendas that may involve exposure to the virus.
No matter where the source of the increase in positive cases stems from, the University’s choice to close campus to Fairfield beach students is necessary. Fairfield has put the health and safety of their students at its forefront, as evidenced by their stringent, comprehensive approach to combating COVID-19.
It is imperative that Fairfield University maintains a safe environment for its students, faculty and staff. While actions such as closing campus to beach residents are unfortunate, they are absolutely necessary in order to keep the on-campus community as safe as possible.
There is still tremendous uncertainty about what the future holds for us, our school and our world. So for the time being, the best course of action is to reduce, as much as possible, the harm that the virus can cause. Even though the eradication of the virus may seem like an insurmountable task, it is a necessary one. We must remember to continue wearing our masks and distance ourselves from others. This is our responsibility to one another.