By Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer
Alongside the guidance of the Health Management Team, the President’s Council, and a group of epidemiologists, Student Activities has made the decision to increase indoor student group meeting size to 50 people for all 400 student organizations.
This decision will not allow student groups to host events but will allow them to meet indoors with face coverings and while socially distanced.
Groups must still follow room capacity guidelines and advisors must be at all meetings to ensure that students are abiding by COVID-19 guidelines. Groups cannot exceed 50 people while inside of a building, but can extend to up to 75 people while outside or in the on-campus tents.
Matt Burchett, director of Student Activities, said that this gave them a group to test how meetings would work.
“We gave that two weeks,” Burchett said. “Obviously all along the way we’re doing data analysis to see if those kind of openings have any impact on COVID cases or spread, so that then gave us the conditions to open up more broadly to our student organizations.”
He said that if there doesn’t seem to be a correlation between meetings with groups of 50 and an increase in COVID cases, they will then have the option to explore the idea of hosting events on campus.
Burchett said after looking at dashboards of other institutions, he feels that Baylor is doing well in terms of on-campus COVID cases. There are currently 88 active cases on campus.
“This is a step that was planned for some time,” Burchett said. “As we continue to monitor cases and our case load and we are studying the overall well-being of our students and their desire and longings to have connection and belonging.”
A multi-phase process was released over the summer about how to incrementally open. Burchett said that the success of Homecoming experience and home football games allowed them to gauge how they can continue to open up more in the future.
“Our hope, too — I think as you consider what’s next — our hope is to send students home healthy as well,” Burchett said. “It’s not just ‘keep them healthy so we can wrap up this semester.’”
Glenmoore, Penn., senior and president of Sing Alliance Maddie Kinneary said that while rehearsals begin during the spring semester, they haven’t been able to hold their normal social meetings.
“I’m also a part of Forensic Society,” Kinneary said. “But we’ve exclusively limited that to online so we haven’t really been affected.”
They are now able to hold an in-person sign up event for the spring in which they expect a total 84 interested individuals split into two meetings to keep the number below 50.
Kinneary thinks this new change will increase the number of individuals that are able to show interest and get involved with Sing Alliance.
“That kind of gives light on hoping next semester will become more normal,” Kinneary said. “I definitely think people will be more inclined to join hoping that it would happen in person.”
Burchett said there is potential to open up more broadly in the spring.
“COVID is a day-by-day, week-by-week kind of process,” Burchett said. “I think we had said, ‘once we hit certain variables, we’ll feel comfortable opening up a little more broadly.’”