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2022-2023 COVID-19 Protocol

By: Emily Shanmugam

When the World Health Organization first announced that COVID-19 had become a global pandemic, few people anticipated how much it would change mindsets and impact daily lives. Those who were here at Graceland during that unpredictable time will recall all the restrictions put in place, including mandatory masking, 6-foot social distancing, reduced class sizes, and required daily COVID screenings. Students had to present their “green screen” at all locations where they would come into contact with others, and those who came down with COVID were moved to quarantine in Patroness Hall. Overall, these demands put a significant damper on the college experience. As Vice President for Student Life Dave Schaal said, “Graceland puts such a huge emphasis on ‘community’ that keeping our distance and not being able to see each other smile was awful. It was a difficult time, but it was amazing to see how flexible and adaptable everyone became. We still found a way to hold classes, have intramurals, host social events, etc. It was pretty remarkable. Not even COVID could squash our commitment to be together and live in community.”

Nevertheless, it’s unlikely anyone wants a repeat of the experience. Luckily, the threat of COVID has died down, and most restrictions have been eliminated this year. Schaal said that, while all students are encouraged to get vaccinated and take precautions like washing hands, there are no specific rules in place.

However, it could be dangerous to become overconfident with regards to COVID. It may seem like it has all but disappeared, but COVID is still a concern. When I asked Schaal if there’s a protocol in place, he said, “Yes. We encourage everyone to test for COVID if they have symptoms, and, if they test positive, to contact the COVID Coordinator Erin Lundy, who will make sure that they understand the protocol, which includes a short period of isolation.” Furthermore, another outbreak of the virus might necessitate additional action. Schaal explained that, in such a situation, “We would follow the guidance of the Decatur County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control, which would include isolation housing, quarantining (when necessary), and a system of regular check-ins by members of the COVID team. We would be in regular contact with health officials to make sure that our protocols are up-to-speed with whatever it is that might be understood about COVID at the time (that, of course, has changed quite a bit over time).”

In any case, it’s good to be prepared and aware in the event of an emergency. Self-monitoring is the best way to keep everyone on campus safe and allow the Graceland experience to continue to flourish. Together students and staff can ensure that the worst days of COVID stay in the past.

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