September 9, 2022 | NEWS | By Leigh Walden | Illustration by Jubilee Rivera-Hernandez

In a lot of ways, campus feels like it’s returned to a pre-pandemic normal. Without mandatory testing, mask mandates, and Zoom classes, one could be convinced that the pandemic is no longer a concern of the Colorado College community. However, with 28 active cases as of last Friday, it’s clear COVID-19 is still very much a reality on campus, and this year there are less comprehensive strategies to mitigate it.

Based on an increase of cases from the week, last Friday, Heather Horton, the director of student health and wellbeing, sent out a campus wide email informing the CC community that the official campus recommendation on COVID-19 policy has been updated to “strongly recommending masks” in indoor spaces.

This comes in response to meeting a predetermined metric that states that once there are more than 25 active cases of COVID-19 on campus orlow to medium transmission in the Colorado Springs community, masks will become strongly recommended, but still optional.

Currently, transmission in Colorado Springs is considered low, and overall, COVID-19 in the United States has become less deadly, but there are concerns for another fall wave. As the weather cools and students across the U.S. return to school, transmission of all viruses increases, COVID-19 included. Last year, the fall wave of COVID-19 infections coincided with on-campus transmission of the flu. While concerns over the spread of COVID-19 remain among the school community, students are now struggling to get access to tests.

In an interview a CC senior who wished to stay anonymous, they reported how they encountered that very situation. 

“I go to Worner to get a free test, and the sign at Worner says ‘no free tests available,’” they said. “So I … called the health center and they said they’re not giving out free tests anymore. They’re getting too many false negatives so they’re not doing tests anymore.” They were told that they could buy a test for $27.

These circumstances have resulted in some students feeling like cases are being underreported. “I think there’s more COVID-19 on campus right now than ever. Everyone seems to be sick, and they can’t get a test so they’re not testing.” the student said.

There are hopes that even this fall wave of cases won’t be as severe however, especially with the anticipated release of second boosters available to the general public now. These booster vaccines should, according to some health officials, curve the wave of infections.

Emma Markland ’25 recently got the latest fall booster. 

“One of my biggest reasons [for getting the vaccine] is I’m going abroad Block 4 so I wanted to feel comfortable traveling to Spain, in addition of like, being around campus,” she said.

Mask-wearing didn’t seem to faze Markland either. When asked about her reactions to a potential return to a mask mandate on campus she said, “I’m used to it because I never really stopped wearing masks. I feel like there’d be a lot of people who were mad about it, but I wouldn’t really mind it.”

The amount of COVID-19 infections on campus that will trigger a mask mandate according to the current policy is 50 active cases on campus orwhen El Paso county transmission is high. Some students do appear to have become more cautious with Friday’s message from Horton.

The anonymous senior referenced earlier said, “Everything is constantly changing, and social norms are a big part of it. What my experience was recently was that I was at class, first week and…we weren’t wearing masks.”

After Friday, the class norms, though not changed by the professor, had shifted. “On Monday I come to class and everyone’s wearing masks and I was like wow everyone took that email seriously,” they said.

The COVID-19 dashboard updates at the end of every week, so the CC community can expect a pulse check as to the status of COVID-19 on campus this Friday.

Heather Horton was asked to comment on this piece but was out of office this week. Several college officials, including Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Life Rochelle Dickey, Assistant Director of the Wellness Resource Center Molly Hadley, and Associate Dean of the Faculty Andrea Bruder declined to comment.

Leave a Reply