/New COVID policy receives mixed responses 
Graphic by Bell Jackson

New COVID policy receives mixed responses 

By Lucy Frost-Helms, Copy editor 

With COVID-19 still present throughout the world, guidelines and regulations concerning safety and procedure continue to evolve. The University of Montevallo has taken guidance from the Centers for Disease Control in its most recent evolution of protocol, but some students have expressed concern about the updates.   

The CDC released an updated version of its protocol for individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 1, with the most notable change of eliminating a suggested, five-day quarantine period. Other suggestions now include returning to work, school or other activities after being fever-free for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medication and wearing a face mask for five days instead of 10 after returning to activities with other people. 

As many institutions and businesses have throughout the last four years, The University of Montevallo has taken guidance from the CDC in developing university-wide protocol. Following the most recent evolution of changes, UM released their own updated procedures with guidance credited to the CDC. The changes are applicable to both COVID-19 and “all other respiratory viruses,” as stated in Vallo Voice.  

A summary of the new protocol, which initially excludes a quarantine period, includes staying home when symptomatic, returning to normal activities after being fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication and generally presenting as symptom-free. Other preventative measures that should take place over the following five days include wearing a mask when around others, washing your hands frequently, sanitizing surfaces, ventilating your indoor air and generally keeping space between you and others while recovering. 

While UM is in accordance with the CDC, which has consistently remained a source of guidance throughout the pandemic, some students have given their own opinions as to whether the new protocol is effective.  

Sean Bloemetjie, Harper Chassay and Colton Rodano are all senior students who have experienced different variations of COVID-19 policy at UM.  

Rodano, referencing the peak of contagiousness when COVID-19 is spread, agreed that the guiding policy was not implemented without consideration. 

Rodano said, “To the best of my knowledge, the University of Montevallo’s new COVID policy seems like a measured response when considering the behavior of the disease. To my knowledge COVID is most contagious during the early asymptomatic stages, and after the fever is gone the disease is essentially not transmitted to a significant extent. I could be incorrect, I’m no doctor, I am just giving you my initial thoughts upon reading the policy without conducting further research.” 

However, Bloemetjie thinks that the policy is prioritizing attendance over wellbeing and that the new protocol is disappointing. 

“It’s a danger to students and faculty, and functionally pretends that COVID-19 no longer exists, which only continues to endanger students, faculty and staff. The policy, at face value, appears to prioritize attendance and perceived productivity over health and safety. It’s disappointing to say the least,” he said. 

Chassay, who is also concerned, referred to the more relaxed nature of the new protocol.  

“COVID-19 has become a casual affair. While following CDC guidelines is typically a safe bet, I worry that we have forgotten the seriousness of COVID,” she continued, “Yes, the virus has gradually gotten less severe as it continues to mutate. However, it is concerning to me that we are starting to completely brush off COVID as nothing more than a bad cold.” 

The CDC has consistently remained a point of authority for managing COVID-19, which has included college campuses. As a federal agency, the CDC has been present and directive for guidance of what to do and what not to do in the wake of the pandemic. There has been specific guidance on how to control COVID-19 for universities in the past, but UM’s latest updated policy comes from a general update for guidance released on March 1. 

Other universities across the country have experienced changes in policy over the years, and situations such as visiting hours in residence halls, club meetings, the management of in-person classes, athletic events and student life across the board are all unique to the culture found on college campuses. 

However, these universities are also relying on the general protocol released on March 1. Big name institutions such as Penn State University, Princeton University and Yale University are also relying on CDC guidance: This is a consistent pattern that is not unique to UM, and the results are proving to gain mixed reactions.

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Lucy Frost-Helms is the copy editor of The Alabamian. She’s majoring in social science and minoring in philosophy. She enjoys being a goober, eating chicken salad for breakfast, watching “National Treasure” and telling you that she will “definitely pay you back for that.” Lucy has the worst memory of all time and will forget major, important details of stories you tell her.