OP-ED: Is the University Administration Really Following Public Health Guidelines?


Rebecca Munday, Managing Editor

The university administration says that in Fall 2021 they are planning for “a full return to campus – resuming normal operations – with in-person curriculum delivery, full dining and housing operations, student services, activities, and events.” 

“We are anticipating the expanded availability of the COVID-19 vaccine through the spring and summer months will allow Georgia Southern to offer more in-person instruction, research, events, service, and other activities,” John Lester, the Vice President of Communications and Marketing, said when asked what brought on this massive change. 

However, it raises a lot of questions what information they used to make this decision. Do they expect nearly all students, faculty and staff at Georgia Southern to be vaccinated by the fall? 

Because if they don’t, the CDC is still recommending fully vaccinated people socially distance, wear a mask, and avoid crowds, whenever the vaccinated individual is “in public, gathering with unvaccinated people from more than one other household, visiting with an unvaccinated person who is at increased risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 or who lives with a person at increased risk.” 

“You should still avoid medium or large-sized gatherings,” according to the CDC. Those limited capacity signs on those doors of virtually all campus rooms, including some elevators and bathrooms, shouldn’t be going anywhere.

This would mean that unless nearly all persons who visit all three university campuses get vaccinated: masks, social distancing, and limited gatherings are still needed. 

I don’t enjoy coming to this conclusion. 

As someone who likes being able to communicate effectively, I’ll be downright giddy when masks, Zoom, and email conversations that are a dozen emails long are replaced with actual face-to-face conversation again. 

I’m merely saying that we’ve been told to follow the science and follow public health guidelines for almost a year now and just because we have a vaccine and a way to distribute it doesn’t mean we should stop following public health guidelines. 

I’m also pointing out that the CDC’s guidance for fully vaccinated people has not changed as much as everyone would like it to or that the university seems to think it has. 

It seems that because people are getting vaccinated, albeit at what seems like snail speed, the university wants to forget those public health guidelines that they swore by as we all struggled through the end of Spring 2020, Fall 2020 and now Spring 2021. 

Now that people are getting vaccinated and hopefully large numbers of the university population will be vaccinated by August, they want to go back to large gatherings and full class sizes.  

I’m not against this completely: I’m against the fact that this decision is against the public health guidelines they continue to say they’re following to protect us and that we all need to follow. 

I’m also worried that if we transition back to normal in August, we’ll see a spike in cases among unvaccinated individuals or among community members and then, we’ll have to go back to virtual learning and no one wants that. 

All I’m asking is for the university administration to read and follow the public health guidelines like they keep telling us they are when they make a decision about operations for Fall 2021.