A Day In The Life (Resident Assistant)
As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation, universities and college students everywhere held their breath to see what would happen. All of us were glued to our phones from March to August; watching the emails come and go, patiently waiting to hear from our universities if we will be coming back. Much like everything else the past couple of months, it was a waiting game-- one that was painfully slow.
Being a student leader on campus has most definitely been a challenge, to say the least. Before COVID-19 sent us home, I received a resident assistant position here on campus. It was all kind of a blur – being added into this new group of students on campus, and then two weeks later being sent into a whirlwind.
To be completely honest, Jefferson wasn’t the greatest with communication. And don’t get me wrong, I understand that most of these institutions have never had to deal with this before, but at the very least, students deserve a little bit of communication. Sure, we received emails about updates and how the Jefferson Hospital was handling covid, but we never really received any insight about the fall.
Over the summer, I was in communication with my advisors; however, they too heard little from their bosses at Jefferson. For me, it caused a lot of anxiety, and I’m sure it did for other students too. Students had to figure out if they were going to live on campus, off campus, or even come back to school at all. For a lot of students, it was a risk to take coming back to school and potentially exposing themselves and their family members to the virus.
From what I have seen and heard; Jefferson offered little to no solace regarding the overwhelming amount of student anxiety that started to rise over the summer. From the talks of schools not re-opening in the fall, to the protests that rippled across the country.
Jefferson’s response: radio silence.
Now, it’s the middle of October. Most students have gotten tested for COVID-19, and have been abiding by the CDC and Jefferson guidelines. A couple of days ago, the university had told students that they would be holding a Q&A session for students and other faculty members. The meeting was held on Monday October 5th and they had sent out a recap of what was talked about.
I watched the 30-minute recap and in the meeting they spoke about the number of positive COVID cases on both the East Falls and Center City campuses. On October 5th, according to the Jefferson.edu Coronavirus dashboard, there were 77 positive COVID-19 cases at Jefferson. During this meeting that was held at 6 pm on October 5th, the amount of positive cases for Jefferson was 58. 54 for the East Falls campus, and 4 at Center City. A lack of communication is one thing, , but students deserve to know the correct amount of COVID-19 cases on our campuses.
On Tuesday, October 6th, the Jefferson Coronavirus dashboard was refurbished to state the positive cases by campus, as well as the “People Under Investigation”. This defines those that were in contact with someone who has tested positive and are awaiting their results.
Living on campus in university-designated housing creates the risk of coming into contact with people who could have come in contact with someone who has tested positive. The university is asking students who don’t wear masks as it is, to use the bathroom and shower when no one else is in the bathroom.
Jefferson, we don’t shower with masks on.
As RAs, we are not notified of who is considered a PUI or who has tested positive, yet if we were professors, we would have the names of students. We share a common living space, as well as a communal bathroom. How is that not more important to be aware of?
As an RA, it is extremely frustrating having kids running around without masks on; going to parties and potentially contracting COVID, among other things. I have residents who have risked a lot to come here and have severe anxiety over people who are being selfish for not wearing a mask. For once, people need to realize that they aren’t the only people in this world. No one is invincible from COVID, and just because you may be okay, someone else’s parents or grandparents may not be okay.
I must admit though, I am surprised for how long we have gotten to stay here; I thought we’d be out by Labor Day. However, now most of the athletic teams are on a two-week pause, and almost everyone’s classes are online. With 800 kids on the East Falls campus, 54 cases aren’t a lot. Nevertheless, the lack of communication is still very prominent.
According to the Q&A session on the 5th, the university is planning on starting the spring semester online again, however there are talks of going back to full capacity in the residence halls. Right now, there is only one person per room, and some of the residence halls hold up to four people. It is nerve-wracking and anxiety inducing to say the least.
Jefferson recently hired more security personnel to go around and break-up non-social distancing groups and students who aren’t wearing masks. However, when the “mask patrol” don’t wear masks properly themselves, I find it hard to believe the rest of this semester will improve. But hey, Forward Together, right?