As we begin another pandemic school year, Eastern University’s COVID-19 policies are much more flexible than last year. Last year, the COVID policies were clear cut. Masks were required everywhere, off-campus travel was prohibited, and freedom of choice was non-existent. This year, Eastern has a much different approach to navigating COVID. Since vaccines are so widely available and highly effective against COVID-19, the university has provided more wiggle room when it comes COVID policies.
Last year, masks were required everywhere; no exceptions. Now, students have the option to choose what makes them feel the most comfortable. With only a handful of offices and departments requiring masks, students are able to choose whether or not they wear one. In addition, unlike most universities, Eastern has not required the COVID-19 vaccine. Again, this allows students to decide what is best for their health.
This choice by the university is a step in the right direction because it allows students to do their own personal risk assessment. In the middle of a health crisis, individuals should be able to make their own choices based on their medical history, experiences and insights from their doctor. Eastern’s COVID policies open the door for students to take responsibility for themselves.
However, the university is highly recommending the vaccine for students. If students are fully vaccinated, they are no longer required to quarantine. Instead, in the event they are exposed, they only need to wear a mask for 14 days. However, if an unvaccinated student is exposed COVID-19, they need to observe a seven day quarantine and provide two negative tests. In that regard, vaccines not only protect you from the virus, but they also keep you on campus and out of quarantine.
These policies provide much more freedom to the student, however, the university has failed to clearly lay out their policies. When asked about the COVID policies, a student said, “I honestly am not entirely sure what the protocols are, I just do what everyone else does.” Since students do not fully understand the policies, Eastern should strive to clarify their policies.
Looking at the university as a whole, Eastern has created an environment for personal choice. Since the pandemic continues to wreak havoc in people’s lives, it is important that students are able to make their decisions for their health. Compared to last year, Eastern is giving students a much more college-like experience and more freedom to choose. So, all in all, the university is in a much better place, but should strive to clearly lay out their protocols, so students can be confident in their personal health decisions.