An update on public health policies at Simmons


Megan Sutherland, Social Media Editor

Some Simmons students say they feel uncomfortable with the state of public health policies at the University this semester. “It’s the lack of them [COVID policies] that I find interesting considering Simmons’ previous stance,” Emma Scott, a junior at Simmons, states.

Beth Grampetro, Director of Health and Wellness and Chief Wellness Officer, offers an explanation: we’re not post-pandemic, but “we’re in a different place. … We have vaccines, we have therapeutics, we have ways to reduce risk, [and] we have strategies that we can follow.”

On September 7, 2022, an email was sent to the Simmons student body regarding the University’s public health policies. It encourages students to get their COVID booster and shares a link to additional information regarding general health and wellness resources and opportunities this semester.

Residential students received an additional email on September 15, 2022 explaining that students who test positive for COVID are responsible for either going “home” to quarantine or staying in their dorm. “RAs [Resident Advisors] are supposed to strongly encourage residents who test positive to go home,” Abrielle Cunningham, a resident advisor in Dix hall, adds. Residential students can also use a Google Form to self-report COVID cases and get information about meal ordering.

With the closing of the campus testing site and lifting of mask mandates Caitlin Curry, a residential student, shares that she is “more anxious.” Although she received both emails she expresses, “I have felt like the communication of policies hasn’t been the most explicit so I’m not even sure what all of them are.”

Similarly, on September 15, 2022, an email was sent to commuter students. It links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) isolation guidelines and tells students to refer to that page as needed.

Commuter student Katjana Gora shares that with the lack of guidance from the University she “[doesn’t] even know what to do.”

Although the University does not have commuter student-specific guidelines, there is information for students to regulate COVID in their own households. Grampetro shares two more resources: one document that details what to do if a member of the household tests positive and another that answers frequently asked questions regarding isolation. She also clarifies that commuter students can use the Google Form link as well to self-report a positive test.

The COVID dashboard utilized last academic year has not been updated since May 2022 and will not be used for this academic year. The University will track cases through students who choose to self-report their COVID status.

In response to this, Student Body Senate President Bella Yee states, “While I would like to have faith in the Simmons community to keep the collective in mind, I fear that relying on self-reporting may allow cases to slip through the cracks.”

According to Grampetro, the University currently has no plans to require that students report positive tests or to return to surveillance testing. In the meantime, Grampetro encourages all students to get their next booster shot for COVID and practice harm reduction strategies that make them feel safest.