As COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Boise and the Treasure Valley, students are left wondering what scenario could potentially shut down college campuses for a second time, and force another transition to fully remote classes during the semester.
Boise currently sits at stage three in Gov. Brad Little’s reopening plan after Central District Health (CDH) made the recommendation to stay at stage three after the onset of cases that appeared this summer in Ada county.
Boise State has outlined safety protocols that include COVID-19 testing on campus, mapping out classrooms to provide proper physical distancing and has issued a mask policy on campus. However, the question still remains on what factors could actually shut down campus once again.
Greg Hahn, associate vice president of the Office of Communications and Marketing, said the university has a two-week closure policy in effect for those who contract the virus.
“Our plan is to use targeted, two-week closures to isolate and suppress infections. Our strategy is designed to mitigate COVID-19 related disruptions to campus,” Hahn wrote. “If we experience widespread infections, we may close the entire campus for two weeks, again in hopes of suppressing infections.”
Hahn suggests that going fully remote for all classes is a possibility if the implemented measures can’t stop the spread of the virus.
“If unsuccessful, we will have to consider shifting from face-to-face instruction to entirely remote for the duration of the semester,” Hahn wrote.
CDH is one of seven local public health districts in Idaho. They have worked closely with Boise State to ensure campus has safety precautions in place for students return to campus.
CDH Public Information Specialist Brandon Atkins ensures that Boise State will continue to work with CDH as the situation develops. He believes Boise State’s campus should continue listening to public health agencies.
“We encourage BSU to continue to follow best practices and guidelines set forth by Central District Health for operating their school and all associated activities,” Atkins wrote. “Consistent and frequent communication will allow for rapid response and effective planning for possible events that could impact school and community functionality.”
Andrew Belarsky, junior psychology major, fears if another campus closure happens it could be difficult for him because he lives on campus.
“For me that could look pretty difficult considering I’m a resident assistant in the dorms and I don’t know what that would mean for my living situation,” Belarsky said.
However, Belarsky understands another potential campus closure could be the best decision for the campus community.
“I think once the organizations in charge of those decisions decide what is most beneficial for the campus community, I would fully support that,” Belarsky said.
Belarsky feels for the most part uniformed on the decisions that could lead up to another campus closure.
“I feel pretty uniformed, especially with how fast everything is changing and what I’m seeing in the news. It seems like there’s rapid updates on the best way to go about things,” Belarsky said. “I’ve kind of just learned to hope for the best, but expect the worst.”
*This is an ongoing story and The Arbiter will continue to report on this.