Students speak

Note: “Students speak” is an ongoing column in which current’s editor Grace Olson will write about on and off-campus student suggested issues.

Now that the semester is in full swing UW-Eau Claire students have adjusted to in-person classes once again. 

Although some students were excited to return to some normalcy this semester, there are now rising concerns of positive COVID-19 cases and the mask order not being followed. 

On the Facebook page “UWEC Memes for Trend-Setting Teens,” there have been concerns raised about whether fellow students are truly following COVID-19 protocol. 

Tyler Bauer, a computer science student, made a post on Sept. 6 that he had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 from a class they share. 

In the comments, many people shared similar stories and frustrations about people wearing masks incorrectly — or not at all. 

Christopher Michael, a McPhee Physical Education center employee, said many athletes will take their masks off or wear them under their chins when their coaches leave, even when they are not socially distanced. 

Another student, Rachel Leopold, a resident assistant at UWEC, said she had difficulties setting up a COVID-19 test on campus because it was on Labor Day, many sites being closed. 

According to the UWEC website, “every individual, regardless of vaccination status, who enters campus lands shall wear a face covering.”

The website further explains that a face covering must be worn in all indoor public spaces and while riding a campus shuttle, or if there is more than one person in a university vehicle. 

Violations can result in employee discipline, student discipline citation and/or fine under UWS Chapter 18, UW System Administrative Policy 1292, the website states. 

This will remain in effect until Friday, Nov. 26 when the order will be re-assessed, based on if the community transmission is decreasing and if the UWEC receives assurance from local health departments. 

Hannah Hart, an elementary education student, said she believes the university should require vaccination for those who want to attend in-person classes. 

For those who don’t want to become vaccinated, online attendance should be made available, Hart said. 

UWEC is also not requiring social distancing despite recommendations from the Centers for Disease control and Prevention to the public to continue to keep a six foot distance from those outside of one’s household. 

The CDC reminds the public that those individuals without symptoms can still spread COVID-19. 

Students are not required to social distance in classrooms no matter the physical size of the classroom or how many students are physically present. 

There are even areas where masks are allowed to come off like in dining areas, where social distancing is still not required. 

UWEC is offering free antigen testing to both students and community members, including those who are asymptomatic. 

The university did host a vaccination clinic earlier this year, but appointments are no longer available through the school itself. 

COVID-19 vaccines are now being scheduled through the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, for more information click here. 

Olson can be reached at [email protected].