COVID-19 under control for on-campus students


Graphic by Sarah Carlon

Misbah Rindani, Contributing Writer

Only one among the 190 students living on Simmons’ campus this semester tested positive for COVID-19 thus far according to Katie Kidwell, an area coordinator for Residence Life.

This year has significantly altered the ‘college experience’ that most students look forward to. With biweekly testing, daily symptom attestations, single rooms, and no-guest policies, life on- campus looks different than it did pre-coronavirus. But numbers don’t lie; looking at the testing dashboard, Simmons’ rules appear to be working.

“What makes me feel good is knowing our students are safe,” said Kidwell, who currently lives in Simmons Hall. “We’re seeing a really low transmission, but it does come at a cost.”

While students are not allowed in each other’s rooms, Simmons encourages friends to reserve lounge spaces and gather safely on the quad. Resources such as the counseling center and monthly check-ins with RAs are also available to help alleviate potential loneliness.

Abiding by rigid policies can be a challenging task, which prompted creation of the COVID Compliance Rewards program. As students uphold their promise of symptom attestation, which entails using a mobile app to affirm that they’re not experiencing COVID-like symptoms, and viral testing, they’re entered in raffles for gift cards, study packages, and even Apple products.

“The program intends to provide small joys throughout the semester and maintain a sense of community that can be lost in these times,” said Justin Cancel, a graduate residence director living in North Hall.

Julianna Fernandez, a resident advisor (RA) in her senior year, realizes that although the rules make sense for COVID, “they result in a difficult way of living that is unnatural.” She misses hosting in-person programs for her residents, meeting her friends at Bartol Hall for dinner, and having movie nights in the dorms.

Megan Watras, a sophomore majoring in economics and finance living on-campus, finds solace in hanging out with her friends on Zoom and going on walks outside. However, she wishes Residence Life would allow roommates, something that is, “Quintessentially part of the college experience,” she says.

Kidwell acknowledged that the rules may be strict but said, “the isolation is not unique to us, it’s a product of the time we’re in.” She explained how Residence Life created the policies in collaboration with other offices on campus while following guidelines set forth by the CDC and the Commonwealth.

Students received word that Simmons intends to bring all students back to campus in the fall, but Residence Life isn’t sure what this means for housing and policies. 

“We are starting to plan for many situations,” said Kidwell.