On September 20, 2020, Wilfrid Laurier University announced that four students had tested positive for COVID-19. None of these students live on-campus and are all currently in quarantine. Two have directly reported to the Waterloo Public Health Unit, while the other two are under the jurisdiction of the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health department.
Despite the quick response, other students at Laurier are concerned about exposure to COVID-19 and wonder where the outbreaks originated. While not confirmed, some have speculated that it could be traced back to Western University where a total of 28 students tested positive two weeks ago.
UW was surprised when the news broke out. Sangeeth Kalaichaniran, a graduating student in Mathematics who is currently undertaking postgraduate work, expressed his thoughts. “To be honest, I never really heard about [those cases], but now that I heard about them, I feel like there’s a lot of people during frosh week who might have been partying a bit too much.”
Kalaichaniran is confident in UW and its ability to keep students safe, “I think [UW] is taking a lot of initiatives right now. In the Student Life Centre, there is a lot that has been going on to make sure that people are not close to each other. People are wearing face masks and tables are being sanitized, so I think it’s going well so far.”
Regarding the possibility of locations becoming quarantined, Kalaichaniran thinks “that is the responsible thing to do now that the cases are going up, so it’s better to lock things down to try to flatten the curve more.”
Chandu Subramaniam, a UW student in her fourth year of Biomedical Engineering, expressed her thoughts on this matter, “I feel like students needed to be more responsible,” Subramaniam said. “With the second wave coming and more students interacting, people do not know if they are the carriers so it can affect other students. Ultimately, we need to be responsible.”
Much like Kalaichaniran, Subramaniam is also confident that UW is well prepared. “I do see that because there is someone who is always patrolling and we make sure that we are wearing a mask.”
In the meantime, UW administrators are developing new methods to protect the students. Rebecca Elming, manager of Media Relations for UW, stated that “the University has many new protocols in place to keep students safe on campus – including an increase in the cleaning of high touch surfaces, many new hands sanitizing stations across campus, the requirement that anyone on campus and in communal spaces must wear a mask, and our Campus Check-In system, which allows the University to work quickly alongside Public Health to perform contact tracing in the event of a positive COVID-19 case on campus.”
As for new and substantial ideas Rebecca stated, “The University will also be opening a new testing center for staff and students, details of which will be made available shortly.”
While the possibility of a second wave remains uncertain, UW will continue to keep students updated. Hopefully, their new ideas and methods will help prevent the spread of COVID-19.