We need updated data about COVID on campus

Columnist Eryn Thompson. Photo courtesy: Thompson

With classes back on campus, students back in dorms, and an upcoming football season, it seems as if Florida A&M is back to normal.

The health and safety of students and faculty has been the priority of the university since the reopening plan was announced. Masks are still recommended on campus for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

But are precautions being taken seriously by students and faculty?

COVID tests are suggested every two weeks. But are students and faculty adhering to these guidelines? Who is making sure students are getting tested? Are the test results accurate and truthful?

Pharmacy student Samara Blount has reservations about campus being open amid the spike in COVID cases. Blount, a professional/graduate student, takes precautions by getting tested every two weeks and wears a mask in class. However, she has concerns.

“The university will be hesitant to inform students about positive COVID cases,” she said.

Blount, who is at P3 in pharmacy school, said: “Pharmacy school legally can’t require it but they highly recommend wearing masks and practicing social distancing. We all wear masks and social distance in the classrooms.”

Following guidelines is what keeps students safe but following guidelines can only go so far. The university can not control what students do away from the classroom.

FAMU posts weekly results of testing and positive case counts displayed on its website. However, the current statistics displayed are from a time frame of Aug. 1-30, 2020.

Students are recommended to  get tested every two weeks but what’s the point of that if statistics fail to be updated? How can students know if they are safe on campus if no one is informing them of positive COVID cases?

According to The New York Times, with dorms being filled to capacity across the country, hotspots for COVID cases are expected.

Second year student Destiny Wright said she does not have any fears of safety on campus, despite campus being fully open.

Wright, a graphic design student, is also a resident on campus. She says that living on campus is “pretty much the same as last year” and “not much has changed.”

It is great that Wright feels comfortable on campus without knowledge of COVID cases around her, but other students don’t feel the same.

For those students, who are they to go to if they don’t feel comfortable being uninformed?

Students have been instructed to contact the director of Student Health Services ,Tanya Tatum, regarding the safety and health of students. Unfortunately, she did not respond to emails all week.

It is no secret that COVID cases are going up all across the state of Florida. The safety of students and faculty is said to be the priority of students, but how can that be true if students aren’t informed of important information regarding their health?