Changes in EU COVID-19 Policies: Are they for better or worse?

In just one academic year, Eastern University looks a lot different than it ever has before. With so many changing policies and restrictions, there is much debate about whether or not these changes are effective.

From the fall to spring semester, a number of the policies surrounding COVID-19 have changed. While the school claims that these changes have been made for the students’ safety and wellbeing, many would argue that the policies are actually hurting the mental wellbeing of the Eastern community.

According to the Pandemic Safety Policy for Student Behavior, some rules have stayed consistent through both semesters such as the requirement of face coverings, physical distancing, daily symptom monitoring, and residential building restrictions of non-residential guests. In the fall, however, students had more freedom in terms of interaction among residential students. Residential students were allowed in all of the dormitories so long as they wore face coverings and adhered to the limitations of the number of students in a dorm room. These policies gave students some aspect of normalcy in the midst of utter chaos.

This normalcy was stripped from students as they entered the spring semester. Residential students can no longer visit each other in dormitories or hallways that they do not live in. While Eastern is attempting to stop the spread of COVID-19, they are limiting the little human interaction that students were allowed in the process.

Normal semesters are stressful enough, and with added COVID-19 measures, the stress is more than some students can handle. On top of this, Eastern is limiting the ways that students cope with this stress. Relaxing time with friends is one of the main ways that college students can unwind from the pressures of school and now, COVID-19 as well.

The university may argue that students can still enjoy relaxing time with friends in community areas; however, these community areas are used commonly throughout the school day. If students are to then use these same areas for casual time with friends, there then becomes no distinction between work and fun. From personal experience, this can cause a constant state of anxiousness.

Many people can understand Eastern’s efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus on campus; however, with the rules that are currently in place, many students do not feel that they are getting their money’s worth of room and board. With no social life on campus, what exactly are students paying for; just a place to sleep?

While there have been some negative changes to Eastern’s COVID-19 policies, there have been some positive advancements as well. In the fall semester, students were not allowed to travel off campus to pick up food from restaurants, even if it was curbside. Students had to have their food delivered to campus, which became very costly and impractical for some residential students. This semester, however, students are allowed to travel off campus to pick up their to-go food. This gives students an opportunity to get off of campus and enjoy some freedom, even if only for a moment.

This semester, students can expect a new phase system as well. The spring semester started off in phase A and will change as changes occur within the pandemic. It is hard to tell when the university will move to the next phase; however, students remain hopeful that normalcy will return to their lives bit by bit. The 2020-2021 academic year has been unlike any other and students will have to continue navigating the frustrations and stress brought on by Eastern’s policies.

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