“Social interaction is always possible”: Hopkins launches hybrid spring semester

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Hopkins welcomed students to campus for its hybrid spring reopening with in-person activities and limited accommodation. Students are required to adhere to a number of security protocols related to COVID-19, including a mask warrant and asymptomatic testing.

The move-in process for the university accommodation began on January 16. Additional rules that residence students must follow include mandatory bi-weekly testing, face coverings, and social distancing. Mass gatherings are prohibited and students are not allowed to enter residential buildings or dormitories not assigned to them. There is a general ban on having guests, including other students in residence, inside the rooms.

Freshman Jason Lin said he was able to safely socialize with classmates he had previously only interacted with on Zoom.

“There are obviously restrictions, but the way the University has set the guidelines, social interaction is still possible,” he said. “Overall, I found the move-in process and being here in Baltimore to be really enjoyable.”

However, there have been incidents where students have been removed from University accommodation for failing to comply with various restrictions. At the start of the semester on Jan. 25, 11 students were fired for violating guidelines, according to vice-president of student affairs Alanna Shanahan. Hopkins reimburses the accommodation of these students.

Freshman Jiacheng Li stressed that students living in Baltimore should hold each other accountable.

“It is necessary to protect everyone in the community,” he said. “We all signed the contract, we all paid the tuition and agreed to protect our campus from the virus. “

Brody Learning Commons, Milton S. Eisenhower (MSE) Library and Recreation Center will open the first week of February with reduced hours and limited capacity. Students must use the “Follow Me to the Rec” application to reserve training time slots at the recreation center. Baltimore City recently eased restrictions on in-person dining, but Hopkins only offers delivery options so far.

In-person classes are scheduled to start on February 9. All students must take two negative tests starting the week of January 25 in order to attend. Students in off-campus housing who arrived earlier in the month and were tested multiple times still need two more negative test results this week to attend in-person classes.

Lin said he looks forward to attending in-person labs for his chemistry and biology classes.

“Most people are excited about social interactions, but I’m also excited to finally have some hands-on experience working in a lab,” he said. “I know this is something I really wanted to do and that’s why I applied to Hopkins. There is so much research available and I wanted to gain some lab experience before working in a lab myself.

COURTESY OF CHRIS H. PARK

Brody and the MSE Library and Brody will reopen in early February.

In the past seven days, Hopkins has performed 6,685 student tests, 23 of which were positive. The city of Baltimore reported a seven-day average daily new cases of 187.7 on Thursday evening, with a positivity rate of 4.9%.

At the start of the fall semester, a small group of students tested positive for COVID-19, sparking university-wide efforts to highlight the importance of taking precautions to slow the spread of the virus. No similar outbreak has so far occurred on and off campus.

Dr Roanna Kessler, medical director of HelWell, noted that the trends in campus testing were moving in the right direction.

“We have a positivity rate of less than 1%. Considering the rates in the country right now, it’s very low, ”she said. “The tests have gone very well so far. “

Hopkins Affiliates can schedule tests and receive results through MyChart. Kessler explained that the results will usually be released within 24 hours of testing, but may take longer if the lab decides to run their tests again.

“If your test hasn’t come back within 24 hours and you’re not symptomatic, you can just sit and wait,” she said.

The University has also launched a social pact that requires affiliates to sign a pledge to ensure the health and safety of the Hopkins community during the pandemic. At least one leader from a registered student organization is also required to complete training sessions on COVID-19 precautions before groups can reserve places on campus this spring.

Although signing the pact is not mandatory, Shanahan expressed hope that students support his guidelines.

“It strengthens our most basic policies, procedures and recommendations regarding how we ideally keep our community safe,” she said. “I hope that the students will embrace this pact, support it and live from it. Much of our ability to be here and to be safe depends on our community meeting these standards. “

COURTESY OF CHRIS H. PARK

Construction of the social distancing tent was completed during the winter break.

In an email to The News-Letter, Senior Catherine Siu stressed that the various restrictions imposed on campus life not only protect the health of students but also that of their neighbors.

“The current restriction on students is necessary if we are to have any chance of having a spring semester here on campus,” she wrote. “While I understand this may disappoint some students, we need these restrictions to keep everyone and the Baltimore community safe, as colleges have been a hot spot for COVID infections.”

Siu used the University’s meme Facebook page to criticize students for violating various security restrictions. Some students have taken to social media and class-wide group chats to condemn those who break the rules on social gatherings, sometimes identifying specific people.

Second-year student Marc Helou acknowledged the importance of rules but expressed reservations about certain aspects of monitoring compliance.

“We are all subjected to many checks to follow the protocol perfectly, especially since it is the start of the semester,” he wrote. “I also don’t think that slight infractions – walking 4 feet away from others instead of 6 feet from others, while also following all other guidelines – justifies publicly ‘taking’ anyone out. We are all human and we do our best.

The University encouraged students to report non-compliance to the “Speak 2 Us” hotline online or by phone.

Siu described the hotline as an ineffective way to report violations in real time.

“People should report major violations to Hopkins. The online form to report, however, has a duration of five to six cases. [day] delay before they respond to you, which makes it a bit pointless as some violations are immediate or temporary, ”she wrote. “For example, if you see a bunch of people on the beach that you don’t know, reporting them with a massive delay in turnaround time doesn’t make sense.”

According to Jennifer Calhoun, Shanahan’s senior advisor, the hotline was not designed for a quick response. She added that since the start of the year there have been 14 student-related COVID-19 complaints on the hotline.

“It’s a university-wide tool that supports complaints for all kinds of things in addition to COVID-specific and student-related complaints. These calls are received by a third party, ”she said. “If we get compliance ahead of time, we’ll definitely try to deal with it in real time, and we’ve had some success recently in this area.”

Instead, Calhoun recommended that, to address concerns in real time, students contact Campus Safety and Security at (410) 516-4600 or its LiveSafe app.

Junior Natalia Aguilar expressed appreciation for the University’s efforts to monitor and prevent activities that violate security restrictions.

“I was here during the summer and definitely had to call the HopCops at a few summer parties,” she said. “They’re really good at responding that way, and I love that they got such an immediate response to a bunch of people who were on the beach the other day. Even though some people do the right thing, it only takes a few people who break the rules to cause an outbreak. “

Symptomatic students should contact JHCCC at (833) 546-7546, seven days a week, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Students can also contact HelWell.


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