Requiring tests isn’t enough. Putting up tents isn’t enough. Baylor and its students need to do more if we want to stay on campus this semester.
Just take a look at examples across the country:
At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 177 students tested positive for COVID-19 in their first week on campus with just 30% of its classes in person. That school has moved to an online format.
The University of Notre Dame has had 146 positive tests since Aug. 3. They’ve moved classes online for the next two weeks.
A little closer to home, Oklahoma State University has quarantined an entire sorority house after 23 members tested positive. No one in the house is allowed to leave for at least two weeks.
Michigan State University hadn’t even planned on welcoming students back until Sept. 2, but it has moved its undergraduates to an online-only environment this semester.
Now Baylor doesn’t have to be like those. It has even made legitimate efforts to be the opposite. Testing could be helpful, and putting up tents is a smart way to combat a suddenly overcrowded campus.
But there are some choices that don’t stand up to healthy scrutiny. Baylor has been put in an impossible situation, stuck between saving their revenue and spending exorbitant amounts of money to keep students on campus. We can’t straddle the line between complete safety and a sense of normalcy.
Why are intramural sports happening? How do you social distance while playing football or basketball? Just requiring that participants and fans (also, why are fans allowed?!) wear masks doesn’t do enough to protect students who are being more cautious.
Baylor is also allowing 25% capacity at McLane Stadium for football games. If it is confident in its ability to house 10,000 fans, why not share the plan?
It’s not just on the university, though. The students have to choose whether or not to socially distance, wear masks and not attend parties. Yes, parties happen. And they are the worst case scenario when trying to contain the virus. If students want to stay on campus — and we should with a 4% tuition hike — then we need to make the collective decision to avoid the risky situations and listen to health professionals.
And if a raise in tuition isn’t enough to dissuade people, maybe the threat of expulsion, as laid out in Wednesday’s email, will be.
Despite some miscalls, the university has done an exceptional job preparing for this semester, but unless students take the virus seriously, it’s likely we’ll be back online within the next three weeks.