As the temperature drops, seasonal holidays arrive. Halloween is only the start to months of close contact with both friends and strangers alike.
When deciding on this year’s spooky Halloween mask, also consider masking up to avoid a health scare.
There is only so much we can do ourselves. At a certain point, it is up to the University administrators to ensure they are taking the right measures to keep us safe.
The University isn’t doing enough.
According to Dean of Students Meg Nowak Borrego, FSU is following minimum requirements set by state health officials.
This year, only individuals who are partially vaccinated or exempt need to be tested regularly. Last year, all resident students and staff were tested regularly, and commuters were tested randomly. Last year’s COVID-19 testing protocols were more rigid than this year’s.
Health Center Director Ilene Hofrenning said the University is considering random sample testing of students. We recognize the benefits of random testing, but believe FSU should consider a more systematic testing schedule which ensures all members of our community are tested on a regular basis.
We believe the University should test everyone at least once per month – including vaccinated individuals – and err on the side of caution.
Hofrenning said vaccinated students who are exposed to COVID-19 will not be required to quarantine unless they receive a positive test. Vaccinated students have between three to five days to get tested after they are exposed.
We believe the University should require any individual who has been potentially exposed to immediately quarantine and seek immediate testing that should be offered by the University. Individuals should be required to quarantine until they receive a negative test even if they do not display symptoms.
The flu cannot be overlooked, either. The University should ensure people who display flu symptoms are also required to quarantine until they are not sick.
We appreciate the preventative measures the University is taking to help our community prepare for flu season, including hosting on-campus flu shot clinics Oct. 26 and 27.
However, FSU’s administration needs to exercise more caution than current protocols require when it comes to COVID-19 and the flu. Students should not have to navigate the difficult decision to quarantine on their own – the University should adopt protocols which clearly outline which symptoms require individuals to quarantine.
FSU is not enforcing social distancing. There are few, if any, signs reminding community members to maintain appropriate social distance, or any markers on the floor in key locations to indicate where to stand.
Until the administration raises the bar on health safety protocols, students and staff all need to take individual initiatives to maintain their health – especially this time of year.
We should also be encouraging one another within our community to keep following these safety guidelines, especially in spaces such as residence halls where there isn’t always someone there to keep people accountable.
This is the season for candy, turkey, and gift giving. Don’t give your friends and family the gift of an illness because ’tis also flu season and COVID-19 still runs rampant across the country.
You may be celebrating holidays, but these respiratory illnesses don’t stop spreading on our days off.
As individuals, there are steps we can take to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19 and the flu.
And as always, wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, wear your mask, and maintain safe social distancing.
For those who commute or are going home this Halloween weekend and plan on passing out candy, consider passing out individually packaged goods as a way to minimize contact between yourself and strangers.
We may be too old to go door-to-door trick-or-treating, but there are still parties and large gatherings that will take place this Halloween.
If you intend to attend parties on or off campus, use caution, especially on other college campuses that may have higher rates of COVID-19 or the flu.
When at these parties, be mindful of masking, social distancing, and the sharing of food or drink.
Although the COVID-19 vaccine has been administered to a large portion of the population, that doesn’t mean we are immune to contracting it – or spreading other illnesses such as the flu.
Even if you’re vaccinated, wear a mask. You might wear a mask as part of your Halloween costume, anyway!
Halloween scares are supposed to be fun, but health scares are tricks, not treats.