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To say that the University has a history of poor communication is an understatement. This has been particularly evident over the course of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For example, amid a nationwide reckoning with structural racism, Hopkins has yet to take any meaningful action to address its contributions to these issues. While we were signing leases and booking flights, Hopkins failed to update us on its plans for the fall semester. And now that we have inevitably returned to Baltimore, Hopkins has failed to offer us adequate support.
The Bloomberg School of Public Health has been attracting major national attention since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit the United States. According to Bloomberg’s Audience Development team, the Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center got hundreds of millions of views at its peak and is still cited daily as the main source of COVID-19 data for media outlets, schools and other institutions. Experts from the school have been featured in media coverage and consulted by people across the globe in these truly unsettling times.
Last Thursday, I arrived in Baltimore for the first time since May. I was thrilled to move back into my apartment for the year, see a select number of people who would be accepted into my “quarantine pod” and enjoy a semester of Zoom university. It had been a long summer and an even longer five months of quarantine, so I was looking forward to a big change.
Eight days before classes even started, the University announced that a small cluster of off-campus students in Baltimore had tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). In the same email, administrators urged students to stay at home, as they did in their delayed decision to switch from hybrid learning to online-only.
On September 1, Governor Larry Hogan announced that Maryland will enter stage three of the state’s Roadmap to Recovery Plan beginning on Friday at 5 p.m. Local leaders, however, are left to determine whether to move forward with lifting restrictions.
Assistant Dean for Academic Advising Jessie Martin sent reminders to the student body regarding grading policy and online learning resources for the fall semester in an email on August 28.
Vice Provost for Student Affairs Alanna Shanahan and Vice Provost for Student Health and Well-Being Kevin Shollenberger announced in an email on August 26 that they will be distributing Wellness Kits to students residing in Charles Village. The Wellness Kits will be available at the Barnes & Noble on St. Paul Street from August 31 to Sept. 4 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
By the time University announced its decision on August 6 to conduct the fall semester fully online, many students had already signed their leases and made plans to return to campus. While some scrambled to sublet their apartments and cancel their travel arrangements, others decided to return to Baltimore despite the University urging students to stay home.
In an email to undergraduate students and their families on August 23, University leaders disclosed that a small cluster of students living in off-campus housing in Charles Village had tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) after returning to Baltimore.
For the sake of Baltimore’s health and students’ safety, University President Ronald J. Daniels and the University’s leadership must work more collaboratively with faculty, students, staff and the people of Baltimore.
Last March, as the University shut down due to coronavirus (COVID-19), many students left campus housing with most of their belongings still in their dorms. With intent to temporarily house healthcare workers responding to the pandemic, the University announced that it hired outside “professional movers” to pack student belongings in select dorms.
NOVID, an organization that branches off of the social enterprise Expii, was founded by Carnegie Mellon University mathematics professor Po-Shen Loh, who had made a moral commitment to apply his expertise to national emergencies. On March 14, he was called upon to help the nation during the pandemic. Using his expertise in network theory, Loh developed the NOVID app, a novel tool to help limit the transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Loh announced the approval of the app on iOS and Android this May.
Following the University’s announcement on August 6 that all undergraduate fall classes will be held online, many students once again have had to modify their plans. With flights booked in advances and leases already signed, students who had decided to Baltimore are scrambling to make adjustments.
There’s no denying that this has been an incredibly strange summer. For me it began with frantic plane rides, a hotel quarantine and a country-wide lockdown. Everything I thought I valued and considered important was put into question. As the world battles the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, this summer has turned into an extended period of self-reflection. I understand how incredibly privileged I am to have typed that last sentence. Essential workers and healthcare workers are working tirelessly day in and day out to keep us safe and minimize the damage of this horrible virus. Yet I have the ability to wear a mask and spend time with my family and close friends.
Dean of Peabody Institute Fred Bronstein announced the conservatory’s transition to complete online instruction for the upcoming fall semester on July 31. This announcement backtracked on a June statement planning for hybrid fall instruction.
“Maybe what we have to be doing is communicating more effectively why we haven’t made a decision, what the factors are that are going to go into that decision,” University President Ronald J. Daniels said in an interview with The News-Letter at the end of April. “Maybe that’s a way to deal with this new normal of pretty profound uncertainty across a number of our operations.”
Baltimore City Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young announced that restaurants can resume indoor dining at 25 percent capacity beginning on Friday, August 7. This follows Young’s previous orders from July 24 to suspend all indoor dining services after a recent spike in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Maryland.
With a hybrid fall semester closing in, Hopkins has taken important precautions to ensure the health and safety of its staff and students, such as mandatory masking on campus and the suspension of all in-person events. The University’s commitment to “equity and fairness,” however, appears hollow when we examine the plans to reopen the Recreation Center.
There is no denying that the situation across the country has changed dramatically since the end of June when Hopkins announced its initial plan for returning to campus this fall. With the exception of the Northeast, coronavirus (COVID-19) numbers have been trending in the wrong direction.
I want to begin by saying that there is nothing I want more than for Hopkins to open up this fall so that I can experience the senior year that I have been looking forward to for the last three years. Regardless of this, based on the current circumstances, if Hopkins continues with their current plan of opening for a hybrid semester, I am afraid that a major coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on campus is inevitable.