Section: Editorial

Staff Editorial: The College’s COVID-19 responsibility

Kenyon seems to have left COVID-19 in the rearview mirror. Reminders of the peak of quarantine are largely gone. Although this is welcomed by many students, and reasonable given the decline in cases since the peak of the pandemic, COVID-19 levels are on the rise both nationally and in Gambier. Kenyon’s administration has a duty to ensure the health of its community and must recommit to providing students with resources to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.

In 2022, Kenyon began providing rapid tests to students outside of the Gund Commons Mailroom. For more than a year, students could test with ease from the convenience of their rooms. Then, with the expiration of the National Emergency on May 11, the College stopped receiving free COVID-19 test kits from the state of Ohio. Since then, rapid tests have only been available on campus in the Cox Health and Counseling Center via appointment.

Offering testing only at the Health Center is an inconvenience, a health risk and a misallocation of resources. Students can no longer simply set 15 minutes aside to test when they feel ill. Instead, they have to carve time out of their busy days to fit into the Health Center’s schedule of appointments. Students may have to wait to be tested, leaving them in the lurch and unaware if they are infecting others. And when staff are occupied with COVID-19 testing, they are unable to respond to other crises.

Not only is it difficult for students to ascertain their own COVID-19 status, there is frustratingly little information available about the rate of COVID-19 infections on campus. Students learn through the grapevine which friends and classmates may have tested positive. Though the Biology department’s wastewater data is a key resource, it is subject to variance and does not reflect the exact number of infections in Gambier.

To offer a fuller picture of infection levels, Kenyon should resurrect its COVID-19 dashboard. At the height of the pandemic, the dashboard enabled students to track spikes in reported cases and adjust their behavior accordingly. Students deserve better than having to rely on gossip in Peirce Dining Hall or posts on YikYak, and Kenyon has a duty to provide as much information as possible. 

Finally, Kenyon must again offer a vaccine clinic. At the College’s first clinic in November 2021, 730 community members flocked to the Lowry Center for a booster shot. With a new booster on the horizon, along with this year’s iteration of the influenza vaccine, another clinic would provide students with easy access to vaccinations. Given Kenyon’s rural location, easing the burden students without cars on campus face is the College’s responsibility.

As the semester progresses and the seasons change, students should have the freedom to choose how they protect themselves and others against COVID-19. Kenyon must provide full and easy access to as many resources as possible to help students make those choices. 

Sincerely,

Katie, Hannah and Audrey

The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Katie Sparvero ‘25 and Audrey Baker ‘25 and managing editor Hannah Sussman ‘25. You can contact them at sparvero1@kenyon.edu, baker10@kenyon.edu and sussman1@kenyon.edu, respectively.

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