With students returning to campus and classes at full capacity, the university has put precautions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, some students have raised questions about the university’s guidelines and if the school is doing enough to protect its students and staff.
Loyola’s policy states fully vaccinated students are able to continue attending classes if they’ve been exposed to a student who has tested positive for COVID-19.
No quarantine period is required and only students who come into close contact, defined as being within six feet of a person who is positive for COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more, are required to get tested within three to five days of the exposure.
Joan Holden, director of Loyola’s Wellness Center, said the school’s decision is informed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Illinois Department of Health. Quarantine policies for vaccinated individuals are nearly identical at DePaul, Northwestern, and the University of Chicago.
While Loyola is following the CDC guidelines, some students said they feel uncomfortable with the current policy. Some said they wished Loyola would take additional precautions, especially as the delta variant remains the dominant strain within the United States and with over 42 million cases COVID-19 cases nationwide.
Due to the extremely contagious nature of the delta variant, those infected are up to two times more likely to spread the virus to others even if they’re vaccinated, according to the CDC. However, vaccinated individuals are contagious for a shorter period of time and usually experience lighter symptoms than those who are unvaccinated.
Maya Heim, a sophomore at Loyola, said she thinks there should be quarantine procedures in place for exposed students.
“I think anyone with an actual exposure should be quarantined for at least a week and test at least twice until tested negative,” Heim, who’s studying advocacy and social change, said.
Another student, Abbi Reichman, a part-time senior studying psychology, said she respected the need to give students autonomy but was concerned for the health of the student body.
Reichman said that if a vaccinated student was exposed she “would feel better if they switched to an online learning format and self-quarantined.”
However, not everyone agreed on further restrictions for exposed vaccinated individuals.
“If people don’t have symptoms and test negative, then I think it’s fine,” David Modory, a sophomore studying sports management, said.
Similarly to Modory, Riz Zaheer, a sophomore studying marketing, said he thinks as long as professors notify the class of a positive COVID-19 case, students shouldn’t have to quarantine.
“Kids sitting around that affected student should probably be contact-traced and let everyone be notified or whatever, just be cautious and careful but class should still be able to meet though,” Zaheer said.