The protocols for the quarantining process at Kenyon thus far have not been uniform. As noted in last week’s issue of the Collegian, students in quarantine have received unclear instructions from the College on how to self-isolate. They have been forced to get meals from Peirce, and they have been refused COVID-19 tests until their 10th day of quarantine. While none of these policies are new, the changed circumstances of this semester raise new concerns about the validity — and safety — of such protocols.
We are deeply concerned that students who are in quarantine as designated close contacts to someone who has tested positive are still allowed to pick up their meals directly from Peirce. As President Decatur noted in an interview on Wednesday, the College believes that “picking up food and leaving is actually okay and minimal risk for transmission.”
We believe that this risk, albeit “minimal,” is still a serious threat. When you consider the fact that there is nothing but the honor code preventing students in quarantine from sitting down and removing their masks in close proximity to others for an extended period of time, the situation looks even worse.
In addition, anyone who has attended Peirce since the beginning of the semester knows the social distancing within the servery is virtually nonexistent. When students who may have been exposed to COVID-19 are joining students at the dining hall who have tested negative, even if they are just grabbing a meal and leaving, it is an unnecessary health hazard.
Our concern stretches beyond the health and safety of students. It is unfair and wrong to put AVI workers and custodial staff in contact with students that could potentially be infected with COVID-19. But as of now, these students have virtually no other choice for getting their meals, unless they have a friend or roommate who is willing to go to Peirce for them.
The College has said multiple times that in order to dine in person before the quiet period ends, students must receive two negative test results. While this may seem like a reasonable policy, the unfortunate reality is that the College is doing nothing to enforce it. The repercussions of violating COVID-19 protocols are clear and obvious. Students that fail to comply with testing or quiet period rules will face disciplinary action, including interim suspension or even immediate removal from campus. But without anyone policing these guidelines, there is no way to ensure the safety of the Kenyon community.
In our eyes, there is an easy and obvious solution to this predicament: Students who are deemed close contacts and are in quarantine should have their meals safely delivered to their room. If this is enacted, the broader campus can enjoy a safer, more secure eating experience in Peirce.
The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Mae Hunt ’21 and Evey Weisblat ’21, managing editor Jackson Wald ‘22 and executive director Elizabeth Stanley ’21. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.