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Despite current plans, UNT needs to do more in response to COVID-19

Despite current plans, UNT needs to do more in response to COVID-19

Despite current plans, UNT needs to do more in response to COVID-19
July 09
11:30 2020

If any public health lesson has been learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that every decision is subject to change at any given moment. UNT began in-person classes for the first time since the announcement of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. UNT President Neal Smatresk released an official notice sent out to students on Wednesday, July 1 notifying students of new health requirements being enforced on campus to protect students including wearing face masks. 

The university requires the use of face coverings “inside buildings and in public settings outside, especially where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” 

This requirement, although in compliance with the CDC, is the bare minimum when it comes to what the university has to do to protect everyone who is going to be on campus. The face mask/covering requirement is a necessary precaution but is nothing without the university willing to give students access to this. Especially when considering the weather conditions that students and other members of the UNT community are subject to in both the summer and fall terms. 

Another worrying factor in the campus reopening is the university’s preparation in the event of a potential COVID-19 outbreak. Face coverings and social distancing are key but that is not a guarantee that the virus may not be present. No, this is not meant to cause hysteria or more paranoia. The numerous resources available at the hands of the university should be enough for the university to take a few steps ahead to provide safe quarantine, treatment and recovery without having to look for these resources themselves. 

Another consideration is how the university plans to evolve when managing public health.  The university does not have any connection with any outside public health expertise like Denton County Public Health. This can be an opportunity for university health departments and professionals who practice on campus to establish a relationship with public health officials.  

There is a public health school on campus and this can help distinguish the importance of being prepared for public health crises in the future. Acknowledging the vital relationship between medical and public health professionals and their equal worth is vital.  

Allowing students and other members of the UNT community to fully have a sense of personal responsibility can be damaging. The university provides a lot of resources to help students feel secure. Whether it is in response to food, housing or financial insecurity, students deserve health security from an institution that has a big part in shaping adults.

The pandemic has brought a lot of changes in society. Preparing for uncertain times in the light of chaos is inevitable. Students should not have to question whether their education is going to be at stake because of the university’s lack of willingness to adjust like students have had to. 

The university announced, “The university’s tuition and fee structure will remain the same,” via Twitter on July 2, but has yet to announce plans to make reasonable and common-sense financial changes that should come with moving a majority of classes online. UNT is nothing without its students and funding. COVID-19 enforcements being in effect should be a major lesson in what it truly means to put students first and not use them as a pawn. 

There is no doubt that some aspects of the world will forever be changed due to the pandemic. However, now is the time to show up for students in a way that they expected when they first decided to attend UNT in the first place. Without the proper measures, associates of the university have no choice but to halt their own lives.

The COVID-19 Student Success Award is available to students but is only there on a first-come, first-serve basis. If students are not eligible, the constant cycle of attempting to make ends meet is going to feel and be more inescapable. 

There is no telling how the world will change in the upcoming months. Being available to students under a majority of circumstances and scenarios should be and has the potential to be the foundation of the university being able to be great despite the uncertainty. 

Instead of reassuring students that their sense of community at the university is not an act, the university should begin and continuously strive to build more of a solid bridge of transparency. 

Featured Illustration: Ali Jones

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Jasmine Hicks

Jasmine Hicks

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