Queen’s needs to keep students informed about COVID-19

University students and staff deserve better than the vague instructions, lack of clear communication, and confusing bureaucracy that came from Queen’s in December, when the abrupt switch to online classes threw the community for a loop. 

I won’t pretend there aren’t examples of students disrespecting COVID-19 regulations. However, I believe a more concerted effort could’ve been made by universities to communicate a clear contingency plan with students should the worst-case scenario happen—and it did.

Throughout the fall semester, I had many reservations about Queen’s reopening plan. I felt it relied heavily on the assumption that nothing would stop us from beating COVID-19.

But if there’s one takeaway from this pandemic, it’s to expect the unexpected at the most inconvenient time.

As cases increased, my friends complained about bureaucratic processes causing issues in their pandemic-related accommodation requests. I’ve had first-hand experience emailing a course to defer an exam, and the teaching team didn’t know the recent policy changes due to a lack of communication from the faculty. Accommodations were designed for more accessibility—instead, students were left with confusion.

Many of the setbacks from the Omicron wave could’ve been avoided. 

All we needed was a clear directive from the University. At a specific case threshold, certain pre-emptive restrictions should’ve been applied. And students deserved to have known that returning to online learning was on the table.

Instead, university officials stuck to the idea that the community was a vaccinated bubble with limited chance of crisis.

The importance of effective, clear, and concise communication is lost on the  administration. Queen’s should’ve been willing and ready to talk about what to do in case of emergency—and they weren’t.

And don’t get me started on public health.

Queen’s and KFL&A didn’t place a testing site on campus—their first mistake. If a testing site was available for a few hours a week, it could’ve curbed the spread we saw in December.

Instead, Queen’s and other universities have been playing defence in a game against COVID-19, a game that’s hard to win against a crafty opponent. 

The losers in this game are the students with the potential for financial loss and affected personal wellbeing—all of which could’ve been reduced if universities stopped playing a failing defensive strategy.

It’s difficult working in administrative positions, especially at major research universities. Students and administrators need to exist symbiotically.

I challenge universities to end this pandemic on a strong note by being proactive, building rapport with the student community, making trustworthy decisions, and streamlining the bureaucracy in place.

I guarantee pre-emptive strategies, like providing students information in advance will be received better by the student body than emails only after a major incident.

I have faith that universities will do their part in communicating proactively with students this semester. The students have spoken—the ball is in their court now.

Asbah is a second-year Biology student and one of The Journal’s Assistant News Editors.


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