In mid-March, the coronavirus pandemic brought the world and the Berry campus to a halt. As we return to our new normal, never has it been more important to be understanding and adaptable.
The CDC states that the virus that causes COVID-19 is known as SARS-CoV-2. This virus spreads through respiratory droplets of an infected person that are produced when talking, sneezing or coughing. To prevent this spread, everyone needs to wear appropriate face coverings and social distance when the situation allows it. Social distancing is defined as creating six feet of space between each person. When used together, the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus is significantly reduced.
As the world learns more about the coronavirus and how it spreads, it has come to light that people can test positive for the COVID- 19 virus while showing no symptoms. These people can also spread the coronavirus to others without even being aware that they have it. These simple facts are part of the reason why wearing masks and social distancing are so crucial to preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Wearing face masks and social distancing can and should become parts of your daily routine.
Recently, the effectiveness of face masks against the spread of the coronavirus have been highly debated. A recent study by Duke University showed that handmade cotton masks greatly reduced the spread of droplets when speaking. N95 and surgical masks performed the best in the study, however, these types of masks should be reserved for the medical field. The Berry College Facebook page also has a post dedicated to the different types of face coverings, and it advises that if a candle can be blown out while wearing the face covering, it is too thin. By allowing enough airflow to blow out a candle, the face covering would also allow droplets to escape and not effectively prevent spread of the coronavirus. Regardless of how effective face masks may be, when combined with social distancing, the spread of the coronavirus can be disrupted. Creating six feet between people decreases the likelihood of respiratory droplets from an infected person reaching a healthy individual.
One small thing that can greatly impact campus health is the honesty of its members. By honestly answering the screening questions and monitoring personal health, the effect of the COVID-19 virus can be decreased on campus. Without all members of the Berry community being honest to themselves and others, administration can not successfully monitor the campus risk.
From the moment that the coronavirus became a threat to the Berry community, the administration has been vigilant in adapting policies and guidelines to keep us safe. As community members, we have an obligation to follow these guidelines to protect not only ourselves, but others around us. With the campus shutdown in mid-March, students and faculty are all too aware of the drastic changes that the coronavirus can cause. While some changes have been made to ensure our safety during the semester, we are lucky to be able to resume in-person instruction. “The Berry Bubble” has allowed us to seclude ourselves from the outside world and limit our exposure.
To continue to inhabit this bubble, we need to follow the rules and community guidelines. “We all row” is no longer a simple mantra, but is now a battle cry as we all work together to maintain a safe community and allow the Berry population to remain on campus. Each student, faculty and staff member must actively choose to create a safe and healthy community.
Another essential part of navigating the Berry campus during the coronavirus pandemic is being understanding of the Berry administration. COVID-19 is referred to as “novel,” meaning that it is a new type of coronavirus. The information surrounding COVID-19 and the virus that spreads it is constantly changing and adapting to new research. The situation surrounding the coronavirus can change within minutes, and this constant flux of information can affect the decisions that the Berry administration have to make every day. Effectively communicating new information and updates to campus can be hard to do under these circumstances. As Berry community members, it is essential to understand these aspects of the pandemic and be patient with administration and college officials. Every person on the planet is being faced with new unknowns and Berry is no exception.
We all have a part to play in this pandemic and we have to decide how to play that part. At Berry, it can be simple if we follow the community guidelines that are put in place. As these community guidelines shift and change throughout the academic year, remember that we are living through a time of extreme difficulty and unknowns.
As we navigate through this new normal, remember to be kind, patient and caring. Wear appropriate face coverings, social distance when possible, and remember we all row.