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Students face unprecedented issues following coronavirus outbreak

The Student Health Center offers a variety of services to students at Ohio Northern University. Students are encouraged to call ahead to any health facility if they have any symptoms of coronavirus including a fever, cough, or have been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus. (photo/Kelly Kern)

The Student Health Center offers a variety of services to students at Ohio Northern University. Students are encouraged to call ahead to any health facility if they have any symptoms of coronavirus including a fever, cough, or have been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus. (photo/Kelly Kern)

As preventative measures to minimize the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to be implemented across the state of Ohio, campus community members of Ohio Northern University continue to face various setbacks and inconveniences to its academic and social lives. Since the announcement made March 10 to cease all face-to-face classes and cancel large, public gatherings, students and faculty are all wondering one thing: Is this an overreaction? 

Dr. Ross Kauffman, an epidemiologist and the Director of Public Health here at ONU, supports the call that was made.

He notes that, although we only have five confirmed cases in Ohio, there have been less than 50 people tested in the entire state, and half of the results of tests already administered are still pending. It is likely that the number of currently known cases only represents the proverbial “tip of the iceberg.” One of the identified individuals did not report traveling to a region with coronavirus or contact with a known infected individual, indicating they caught the virus locally. According to a recent press conference with Ohio’s Director of Health Dr. Amy Acton, just two such cases of community spread would indicate a 1% prevalence in the population.

Kauffman supports the moves to reduce gatherings because social isolation is one of the best tools that we have to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Social isolation is a complete lack of contact between an individual and other people. However, Kauffman wants to point out that this isn’t the only tool to stop the spread of coronavirus. Minimizing any contact between people or only seeing the same people can stop the spread of the disease. This is why classes are now virtual. Additionally, staying informed is helpful. Knowing that the elderly are most at risk, refraining from travel to certain areas, and staying up-to-date with all other information concerning coronavirus will help contain the disease. Remember, always practice good hand hygiene: use soap and water, and rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds. 

Many students must also decide whether they will travel home or remain on campus.

ONU administration and Residence Life agreed to keep housing and residence halls open during the cancellation. Kauffman said this should be decided on an individual basis by weighing the pros and cons. If a student lives with grandparents, other elderly individuals, or immunocompromised individuals, they may consider staying on campus in order to protect these high-risk individuals. Additionally, as testing expands and more data becomes available, students may wish to consider the prevalence of disease in their home community. They should also consider if they need to travel back to campus for labs or not. These are all questions students need to answer when making their decision to stay on campus or not during this time. Similar questions may help students decide whether to be present at work.

One big issue that has many students worried is the canceling of all meetings over 20 people. 

Campus organizations are no longer allowed to hold meetings, and large events are canceled. This is a big disruption to students' lives, and many are unsure of what to do. Executive boards are meeting this week to figure out if their respective groups are able to do some activities, or if the organization is to be on hold for this time.

It was announced this afternoon that Ohio K-12 schools will be closed for a three week spring break starting March 16. This announcement was made at a press conference at the state capital after a fifth case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the state. This raises many questions for parents of children that work and may be unable to provide care. Students with kids will also have to find ways of caring for their children while they take online classes. Additionally, ONU students that are supposed to student teach are unsure of what is going to occur from this development. 

Across the internet there are pictures of empty shelves and people panicking over the lack of available toilet paper, hand soap, hand sanitizer, and food. Kauffman commented on this saying that while it is good to have enough groceries to last for a while, we shouldn’t be hoarding. Having enough groceries to last around two weeks would be ideal in case you were to get sick. We don’t want people who are sick to go to the store, so getting some things now so you don’t travel if sick is okay.

Students need to be aware that most professors have never taught online before, after all, history is occurring right now. This will be a learning experience for everyone, and students are reminded to be patient with one another. 

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