As JSU students return to campus, 60 percent say they do not feel completely safe returning

A student reads under a tree in the Quad. (Miranda Prescott/The Chanticleer)A student reads under a tree in the Quad. (Miranda Prescott/The Chanticleer)

Miranda Prescott, News Editor

A recent survey of 84 students conducted by The Chanticleer revealed that over 60 percent either strongly or somewhat disagree that it is completely safe to return to campus. The survey was conducted the week of August 11 through August 17.

Within the survey, 14 percent of students strongly agreed that the return to campus was safe, with 13 percent somewhat agreeing. Meanwhile, 21 percent somewhat disagreed with this. 11 percent of survey takers were indifferent towards the reopening of the school.

“I feel this way because it has already been shown over the course of the summer per JSU email that students and faculty attending on and off campus events have unknowingly carried the virus and exposed many people,” said JSU student Laura McGhee. “This was only over the course of three months, not even when campus was at its peak population wise, and COVID was still spread.”

In an effort to prevent the spread of the virus, the university enacted a mask requirement for all students throughout campus. JSU student Daniel Jackson said he somewhat agrees with reopening, citing the university’s mask policy.

“The University has put a mask requirement on all of the buildings on campus,” said Jackson. “This mandate should greatly help with the containment and spread of COVID. Even with the university’s mandate there will be students who will act in an unsanitized manner.”

The survey also asked students if they felt that the university was doing the most effective job possible to keep students safe. According to the survey response, 26 percent of students strongly agreed that the actions of the university were the most effective, while 10 percent strongly disagreed with the university’s plans. 

The survey also indicated that 26 percent of students somewhat agreed with the university’s job and 23 percent somewhat disagreed with it. 13 percent of survey takers remained indifferent on the topic. 

“If JSU was truly concerned about the health of students, less in person classes would be offered,” said Anastasia Barker, who somewhat disagreed with the job of the university. “I understand for certain degrees and classes that they are needed, but the majority of classes could be online.”

“I agree that the university is trying to ensure a safe and clean environment, but based on the past months, I am unsettled by people’s care towards the virus,” said Christain Foster, who strongly agreed with the university’s job thus far. “If it isn’t taken seriously by every individual the campus will be infected and I’m not convinced the campus will be as safe as it is on the first day of class.”

Brent Cunningham, a JSU marketing professor, said the university has been “very” responsive to helping professors make the best decisions for their own classes.

“They’ve helped a tremendous amount with making things accessible from the classroom,” said Cunningham. “The university has done everything in its power to keep everyone safe. Students are a low-risk population.”

Christie Shelton, JSU provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, also wants to ensure students that the university is doing what they believe is best.

 “The COVID-19 Task Force has been in place since late February 2020 and led by Dr. Jeff Ryan who is internationally known for his work on pandemic planning and response,” said Shelton. “Under this task force, another work group, referenced as the Fall 2020 Academic Planning Task Force, was convened to guide the reopening of academic affairs.”

Shelton also said that in the event the university must return to remote learning, students will continue to have access to on campus resources such as housing and meal plans. She asked for students to be patient with university staff. 

“We want to prioritize our service to students and visitors, but with different situations occurring and quarantine time being 14 days with isolation at 10 days, it is sometimes difficult to maintain open offices,” she said. “Please reach out if you have any questions at all about any of this information.”
For any updates regarding JSU’s stance on COVID-19, students are encouraged to visit the COVID-19 website for the university at http://www.jsu.edu/coronavirus/index.html.

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