During a Tuesday emergency Zoom meeting, which quickly reached its 1,000-participant capacity, Southern President David Smith shared administration’s concerns that in-person classes may be threatened if students and employees fail to follow COVID-19 protocols.
“Yesterday morning, it became clear to me that our goal of finishing this semester together in person is in serious jeopardy,” Smith said to the audience of both students and employees. “… Immediate action is absolutely necessary. Whether or not we reach this goal of staying on campus will depend on each of you, students and employees of the university.”
As of Jan. 26, Southern has reported 24 active cases and 33 resolved cases for the Winter 2021 semester — a significant increase from the fall semester. Though Smith attributed parts of these numbers to the holiday break and the school’s increased COVID-19 testing efforts, he also emphasized students’ lack of cooperation as a reason for the boost.
“Currently most virus transmissions are occurring on campus itself, and more people are getting [the virus] more quickly than was the case last semester.” Smith said. “… Our biggest challenge right now, one that must be addressed, is noncompliance.”
According to Smith, a growing number of students are not wearing masks or social distancing, while others are withholding information for contact tracing. In addition, Smith said, some faculty members have also failed to record classroom seating placements.
Smith called for students and employees to take COVID-19 seriously and carefully follow all guidelines set forth by the university.
“University Health Center personnel and I are optimistic that we can finish this semester well, if we do what is expected of us,” Smith said. “So, I want to challenge you to comply with all COVID-19 protocols. … Do all that you can to stay well and help prevent the spread of the virus on our campus. We have good reasons to believe that we have about one week to turn around our current behavior.”
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