Covid Precautions

Campus

by Cassidy Ulery & Nikki Dodd

California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) welcomed back over 3,000 Otters at the start of the Fall 2021 semester. Before Otters could move in on Aug. 20, students needed to provide proof of vaccination through the Otter vaccination registry, or supply a valid religious or medical exemption. With a large student population returning to campus, it’s no surprise that safety concerns were amongst students, faculty and staff.

During the town hall meeting for faculty and staff on Aug. 25, CSUMB President Eduardo Ochoa and members of his cabinet addressed staff questions regarding COVID protocols, and how to prevent cases from rising while resuming in-person instruction. 

Effective on Aug. 13, Ochoa sent out a message to all CSUMB students, faculty and staff stating masks must be worn indoors at all times. Around 92% of Otters are vaccinated, with Ochoa stating he is “very proud of our campus and students in regards to vaccination rates.” Since enforcing the mask mandate, students have shown little resistance to wearing masks in public spaces, but staff and faculty were encouraged to politely and respectfully address students who forget or remove their masks indoors.

Ochoa reassured staff and faculty that the indoor mask mandate is a form of “positive action to prevent exposure.” 

Staff or faculty who fail to properly wear masks indoors can face disciplinary action, and the same principle applies to students. Despite having a 92% vaccination rate, the question surrounding what happens to those unvaccinated remained uncertain until recent. Otters who failed to provide proof of religious or medical exemptions and do not participate fully-online were dropped from classes. If staff or faculty have not provided proper proof in the Otter vaccination registry, they are subject to termination. A list of unvaccinated and unregistered students has been created, with administration reaching out extensively. 

What happens if a student, staff or faculty member suspects having COVID? Testing is available on campus in the Otter Student Union in room 210. Before receiving a test, a form is completed to determine if the individual was in direct contact with others and to trace the amount of days since contraction. 

Within classrooms, proper ventilation has been established with HVAC filters being inspected and replaced as needed. Disposable masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are available in every classroom and public space. 

Campus visitors are currently not required to show proof of vaccination, with the “honor system” being in-place but CSUMB hopes to change the procedure as it becomes more feasible to do so. Despite reports of the Delta variant being on the rise, there is hope for the future. 

CSUMB is working to see if booster shots will be made available to students when the time comes, and Otters and the CSUMB community are eligible and encouraged to receive free COVID vaccines in the health center. 

Clubs

by Anna Stubler

As California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) navigates the transition back to campus, one community that is anxious to get back to business as usual are the student organizations. 

“It’s gonna be an interesting year … I think for our clubs. I think it’s a year of transition,” said Dan Burfiend, coordinator of Student Organizations, Leadership Development, and Assessment at CSUMB. “There’s a year missing in my memory right now and it feels like it was March this year we left.”

Student organizations have had to adapt to the new normal. “We still have students that are just Zoom students right now. But I don’t think that’s ever gonna go away,” Burfiend said. 

In order to engage all students, clubs have been utilizing the new platform MyRaft that connects students to events and organizations and also gives a way to provide QR codes and check-in for events to help with contact tracing for COVID-19, as well as metrics on student engagement. Clubs can also create virtual badges to award to students on completion of tasks and training. 

MyRaft is the new platform for students to use and find events. Through MyRaft, students can communicate with each other and find clubs that interest one another which is “educating other students and creating learning opportunities” Burfiend said. 

Clubs have also had to take extra precautions to adapt to being back on campus. Some are happy to meet in-person again, with added safety like sanitation and masks when indoors. Keyoni McNair, the president of the Women in Computer Science club (WICS),  is especially excited to return to seeing members in person. 

“The return to campus is such a positive thing for WICS. Building a community is what WICS is all about,” McNair said. “I feel like as much as we did our best online, we are all aching for a strong connection right now.” 

Clubs who aren’t comfortable meeting in-person have other options like meeting outdoors on CSUMB’s campus or continuing virtual meetings. According to Burfiend, CSUMB clubs stayed strong over the pandemic and only a small amount went inactive, which was offset by new organizations being formed. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing what the students do, like creativity when it comes to utilization of MyRaft,” Burfeind said. 

Burfiend is hopeful that MyRaft will increase engagement as well, especially with features like message boards. “The meme page, I did that as a joke and that’s been off the charts. And so I think that’s been great to see,” Burfiend said. “If the meme page is any sign of how this year’s gonna go and how the students are gonna run with the technology, I think that’s it.”

McNair also enjoys the new software. “MyRaft is such a life-saver! It’s so useful for staying connected to our members and getting new members to join,” McNair said. “It has made planning a lot easier for us as well.” While life for clubs on campus is likely to remain permanently changed, McNair and Burfiend are both hopeful that clubs are going to continue to thrive.

Students who are interested in joining a club, participating in events, or forming their own club can go to https://myraft.csumb.edu for more information. 

Sports

by Daniel Gallo

Uncertainty has been a common thread amongst sports club officers at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB). Returning to campus and rebuilding these communities has been a challenging process. 

Without the ability to practice in person, sports club officers spent their time looking for new methods of engaging team members. 

Sam Perrello, safety officer for Men’s Rugby, outlined the difficulties of maintaining club interaction in a virtual environment.

 “It was difficult to communicate and get members active and engaged,” Perrello said. Perrello found fitness challenge videos and online meetings to be an effective tool in bringing players back together. 

The video challenges organized by the Sports Club Council united teams, allowing students to compete without being on campus. 

Students submitted videos as proof of participation. The challenges included a mile, push-up contest, wall sit and additional tests of fitness.

Returning to campus has been a measured transition. Club officers are grappling with a lack of information as they anticipate a verdict from the university. Perrello feels that patience is critical for men’s rugby, and the team is eagerly waiting to start practicing. 

Losing an entire year of recruiting hasn’t been easy. Rebuilding the roster will take time. The rugby team is in good spirits because of the return to campus, but the recreation field isn’t available for use. 

Leaders are grappling with the status of the competition this semester. Teams are on standby, waiting to see if seasons are possible with the current state of the pandemic. 

Alex Wojcik, the Equestrian Club’s president, misses competing. “I’m a little frustrated,” Wojcik said. “I’m a competitive person and I like to crush it.” 

Wojcik acknowledges that many members are just thrilled to be back – there’s high interest in the club right now, and new students are reaching out. 

Incoming freshman and transfer students are contributing, bringing numbers that help reinvigorate team rosters. 

Dustin Johnson, president of the Disc Golf Club, discussed his thoughts on campus return. “There’s a lot of questions that are left to be desired,” Johnson said. “That’s what’s hard –  trying to predict where sports clubs are going to be when no one knows anything.”

Johnson believes that disc golf has benefited from being an outdoor sport. The setting is safe for players. Mask mandates, vaccination and distancing remain in question until further notice. 

While teams may be back on campus, athletes will have to remain patient as the university closes in on a decision. Sports clubs are looking ahead to an unpredictable first semester, another year of adapting to new circumstances, which by now is a familiar feeling. 

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