As we approach the end of the first week of classes, I wanted to take a moment to say “Thank you”. We have presented you with several challenges, including new policies, procedures, and expectations that often run contrary to past practices and the common understanding of the typical college experience. Thank you for stepping up to the challenge, following the guidance, and looking out for one another. I remain hopeful and encouraged that the Juniata community will stay the course and hold one another accountable for the choices each of us make.
Several major universities have abandoned in-person classes after the first week and sent all of their students home - a consequence of students attending parties without masks and social distancing. The success of remaining open with in-person classes and a residential experience is contingent upon the decisions you will all make over the next few days and the remainder of the semester. We are still vulnerable to ending the on-campus experience early. Consequently, I offer my personal encouragement that in the moments when the temptations of the weekend increase, so too must your resolve to do the right thing and make the right choices.
As you likely know, this virus is airborne. The top three reasons why bars and parties with alcohol are dangerous places for Covid-19 transmission include:
- When you drink, you’re more likely to forget about the virus and social distancing standards.
- In many bars and party situations, loud music or noisy crowds force you to move closer to hear.
- As people become intoxicated, they tend to talk louder, tell jokes or sing, which spreads more droplets. If you tell a joke surrounded by people laughing in response, all without masks, you may get much more exposure to their exhaled air because they are laughing towards you.
The next 4-6 weeks, in particular, are critical for each of us to avoid dangerous behaviors and maintain the safety of our community. Please avoid any gatherings where people are not wearing masks and avoid gatherings with people outside of Juniata’s testing program. If you are of legal age to consume alcohol, please do so responsibly and protect your own health and the health of those with whom you enjoy spending time.
Thank you for your understanding. Stay Juniata strong and we can all enjoy a safe and beautiful fall semester together.
James A. Troha, Ph.D.