ERAU Prescott’s COVID-19 Backup Plan

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CDC: Newsroom for Horizons

Administration Lacks Serious Plans to Control Outbreak

By Mattysen Short, Correspondent

Since school has started this fall 2021 semester, there has been a very rapid increase of COVID-19 cases across the US, with Sept. 7th, 2021 having the highest number of new cases in a single day since the start of the pandemic. This has led to an important question: does Embry-Riddle Prescott have a backup plan for a COVID-19 outbreak on campus? And if so, what is that plan?

           In an email correspondence with Prescott Campus Chancellor Annette Karlsson on Sept. 9th, 2021, Karlsson did not respond to the question regarding a COVID-19 backup plan. She did say, however, that the university does not currently “have a threshold number for the University changing its mode of operation” and that she “ trust[s] that everyone follows our recommendations to get vaccinated, wear facemasks while indoors, and stay home if feeling sick.”

           This statement seems to imply that the university does not plan on changing anything about the way it operates in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak on campus.

           In an unsigned University Communications sent on the second day of the semester, Aug. 31st, 2021, Embry-Riddle made it very clear that they expect every single student and faculty member to wear a mask indoors regardless of vaccination status.

But this expectation is not a policy. In fact, a large majority of students on the Embry Riddle Prescott Campus are choosing to not wear masks. There is currently not a university-wide single policy surrounding masking,  COVID-19 vaccinations, or distancing – something that led Timothy Wilson, a former Embry-Riddle Professor and Department Chair at the Daytona Beach campus, to quitting on the first day of the semester.

           In an email sent by Embry-Riddle’s Core Leadership Team on July 30th, 2021, the University did establish one important thing regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic:

“Remember – if you contract Covid-19 at Embry-Riddle, you will be required to follow state quarantine and isolation requirements, at your own expense–” says the email. The email then goes on to explain that “Embry-Riddle will be at full capacity for fall 2021. The university will not be able to provide special housing for students who contract Covid-19 and are required to remain separate from others. You will likely need to return home or find alternate housing. You will miss out on classes, flight training, athletic events, and other aspects of campus life.”

If you test positive for COVID-19, you are not allowed to get on a plane or bus and are not allowed to take an Uber, Lyft, or taxi. You may be able to quarantine in a hotel but many have policies against it, as do most airbnbs. You also aren’t allowed in restaurants or grocery stores.

That being said, if a person who lives on campus is to contract COVID-19, and they follow this policy – which they will be required to do or risk expulsion – they face quite the challenge. If the student stays in a local hotel, they will be met with over a thousand dollars to pay for the room and food delivery for the 14-day quarantine period. If they go home, they will either have to have a car that can make it, or be able to rent a car (not something many college students can do). Conversely, they may have a family member come pick them up which might also cost a large amount of money and will expose additional people to the virus.

There are also many people who can’t do either of the things above because home to them is across the world. Many others may not even be able to access the support they need for a quarantine.

Students who contract COVID-19 are also not guaranteed academic accommodations at all. This means they will likely miss at least two weeks of material while they are fighting an illness that has killed millions.

The implications of these three communications from Embry-Riddle administration reveal that they don’t have a backup plan for a large COVID-19 outbreak on our campus. In the meantime, it appears that administration is not implementing any policies to prevent an outbreak: resuming normal university operations and making it clear that if a student is to contract COVID-19 on campus, whether they were being responsible or not, they will suffer the consequences with little to no support from the university.

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