Some students say they want more guidance on campus COVID-19 rules

Life on campus has been complicated by the pandemic, students say. Some seek more clarification, guidance and certainty about rules in on-campus living and other areas of student life. (Archive Photo by Karen Mikols Bonar | Collegian Media Group)

In the second week of the fall semester, COVID-19 news and regulations on Kansas State’s campus remain in flux.

Under university guidelines, masks must be worn on campus by faculty, professors and students at all times while also maintaining social distancing. These measures are simple in the classroom-setting, students say, but get more complicated when it comes to living on campus.

Jacob Cummings, senior in social sciences, said it’s “impossible to social distance” while sharing a dorm with his roommate.

In addition to confusion with social distancing policies, Cummings said the mask orders in the dorms are problematic.

“There are some things we can do, like take out the trash without a mask, use the restroom without a mask,” Cummings said. “We should be able to take a shower without a mask.”

In other areas on campus, like dining halls, Cummings said rules should be more strict.

“Employees should be following the social distancing protocols and enforce the six feet apart rule,” he said.

While he’s unsure whether social distancing practices are being followed as strongly as they should be, Cummings said he does appreciate other precautions taken by dining halls.

“What I do have to praise the dining halls on is their service,” he said. “They pack up the meals in a to-go box, they have one line for entrées, appetizers, drinks and desserts, and after that, we get out since there is no eating at the dining halls.”

The precautions in place haven’t changed Cummings’ opinion that K-State would’ve been better off holding classes fully online this semester, he said.

“I wish we would’ve stayed off-campus in the first place,” Cummings said. “Football should be canceled, and we should’ve had a stay-at-home order.”

Fiona Turner, sophomore in chemistry, said that while K-State is doing well with enforcing mask-wearing, she also thinks classes should’ve stayed online this fall.

“On the surface level, [the university] is doing a good job with mask mandates, social distancing and limiting capacity and hours,” she said.

At the same time, Turner said she believes bringing students back to campus at all was irresponsible.

“Of course, students want to be back here, but there’s only so much a university can do,” she said. “Students will still party, and that’s been a big source of spreading the virus.”

After an outbreak of COVID-19 cases at a fraternity off-campus, Turner said it’s helpful that if one of the dorms gets a positive case, they can stay in quarantine housing in Jardine Apartments.

Currently, there are no guests allowed in the dorms, but Amanda Finch, sophomore in accounting, said that may change in the coming weeks.

While she said she appreciates that guests will likely be allowed back into the dorms at the end of August, Finch said she would prefer “if we weren’t allowed guests at all.” Keeping guests out of the equation might help “mitigate the spread within the dorms,” she said.

Finch echoed Turner’s thoughts that while she would prefer that classes were online, she believes K-State is handling the pandemic well in enforcing the mask ordinance on campus.

K-State announced in June that classes will be fully remote after Thanksgiving break. The last day of in-person classes will be Nov. 20.