Coughing, sniffling, sneezing—this is the current soundtrack to the College’s dining halls, classrooms and study spaces. Since the pandemic began, it has become harder to decipher whether these cacophonies are due to Covid-19, “the Bowdoin flu” or simply allergies.
However, with the Covid dashboard gone and limited testing options available, Covid’s prevalence is more of a mystery. We’ve always known we would have to learn to live with Covid; now we just don’t know if we live among it.
Though the College’s current policies and restrictions reflect the Center for Disease Control guidelines, students, faculty, staff and community members would benefit from increased transparency.
We acknowledge that without surveillance testing, there is no way for the College to verify the accurate number of cases on campus. That said, it would benefit us as a community to understand when Covid is more or less present at any given moment.
Bringing back the dashboard, and therefore increasing collective awareness of Covid levels on campus, would benefit our community. Depending on the rise and fall of active cases on campus, people can make more informed decisions. Professors and students may be able to adjust their behavior concerning masking and weekend plans. Community members and immunocompromised individuals may feel more comfortable when entering well-populated, communal spaces at Bowdoin.
Transparency aids everyone. Infected students seeking a detailed, up-to-date plan of action could reference the dashboard to check case trends, as well as isolation and post-isolation guidelines. With one location to find critical isolation information, including dining and masking protocols, back-and-forth emails between students and admin would decrease.
Furthermore, one of the most critical aspects of understanding Covid on campus is through testing. However, students can only receive free tests through the College on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Students hoping to take an antigen test outside of these times must venture into Brunswick, no matter the weather conditions, and pay out of pocket—both potential obstacles for students. To ensure the public’s safety, aid in students’ recovery and decrease testing barriers, security should still operate as 24-hour access to antigen tests for students.
While we embrace our new normal, we understand that Covid is still an active threat to our community, both in and outside of the classroom. Having a clearer picture of Covid’s presence on campus will help us move forward.
This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Editorial Board, which is comprised of Aura Carlson, Andrew Cohen, Katie King, Francesca Kusserow, Halina Bennet and Seamus Frey.