Cross Currents: Is campus closure in response to COVID-19 justified?

The Channels Opinion Page | CROSS CURRENTS

Illustration+by+Lucy+Marx+and+Kai+Zheng

Lucy Marx, Kai Zheng

Illustration by Lucy Marx and Kai Zheng

Brian Kelly and Ryan P. Cruz

The pandemic known as COVID-19 has quickly turned from a virus far away to something that has disrupted society by major proportions. Initially, precautionary steps to prevent the disease’s spread were marked off as “paranoid,” or an overreaction. A few weeks ago, the UC system announced that classes would be shifted online for the duration of the spring quarter. This was one of the first widespread responses to maintain “social distancing,” and in the weeks that followed, schools across the nation followed suit. But was this initial response justified, or an overreaction?

Brian Kelly

In recent weeks, we’ve seen a steady stream of stories, news, emails and social media posts about the pandemic coronavirus and the knee-jerk reactions some are taking to prevent the spread. 

It’s absolutely everywhere and there’s no hiding from it. It’s also not going away anytime soon which is why it’s important to address it.

A lack of action on behalf of the college would probably not resonate well with students, faculty or the community if a confirmed case of COVID-19 were to show up on campus.

City College Superintendent-president Utpal Goswami has been in constant communication with both the staff and the student body, providing consistent up-to-date information and regularly taking action as the situation evolves. 

We may not like the idea of our classes moving online and sporting events being cancelled but now that COVID-19 is known to be community spread, there are no precautions too extreme at this point. 

Everything is on the table.

Community spread means that the virus is easily transmitted from person to person through contact with any number of surfaces, which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends “social distancing” or maintaining a 6 foot distance between yourself and others.

I don’t think we can fault anyone for listening to experts. I was a paramedic during the ebola-apocalypse of 2014 but that doesn’t make me an expert in mitigating the spread of infectious diseases. 

So far I can’t find any action taken on behalf of the campus administration staff that falls out of line with what I would consider to be reasonable measures.

While many of us may not fit into the “at risk” population of citizens over the age of 65, by being careless and allowing ourselves to be exposed to this deadly virus, we put others at risk. It would be irresponsible to put the community at risk.

No matter what our personal feelings may be about the college’s decision to close the campus, the fact is this is a national problem and the stakes are high.

I will be able to rest easy knowing City College is making decisions based on fact and logic rather than panic and fear, and with my best educational experience in mind.

 

Ryan P. Cruz

The reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak has touched every facet of our everyday lives.

The past few weeks have been a surreal window into the ways that society reacts and responds to pandemics and how the fear can drive our actions.

When dealing with a disease as contagious and fast-spreading as the coronavirus it’s extremely important to exercise caution and implement measures that limit social contact, but the closures of college campuses around the nation, beginning with the UC system, was a decision made too soon and without proper consideration for all those affected by the impact of the switch to online classes.

At the time the decision was made, we weren’t quite sure what the proper response to the coronavirus pandemic should be, and although there was a sense of growing fear in anticipation of what was to come, there weren’t the confirmed cases that would call for such a drastic measure.

While I understand that now it’s obvious that the decision was ultimately for the best given the acceleration of the virus, the schools’ decision to close caused a wave of fear and panic for the students and their families.

Many students have returned to their hometowns after their schools moved to online classes. Many have struggled to keep up in an online interface, myself included.

It is tough for me to focus and stay organized with a full online course schedule, especially when much of my schoolwork relied on a routine schedule of attending classes and speaking with instructors during their office hours, then completing schoolwork on campus in between classes.

Finding time and space to work at home is a challenge, and when all libraries and coffee shops are closed, it makes it even more difficult to get my work done.

Closing the schools was one of the first dominoes to fall in what has now become a “shelter in place” policy throughout California. The closing of college campuses led to businesses, restaurants and bars following suit and shutting their doors in preparation of a growing pandemic. 

It also led to all other schools, sports and social gatherings to be canceled.

Though it was a move made out of caution, I still believe that the school system was making a monumental decision that affected thousands of students without considering what they would have to face in the following weeks.

Though the coronavirus has continued to spread, it is unknown what the next few weeks and months will look like. 

But one thing is clear, students will have to be on their own to try to stay afloat until the end of the semester.