What MNSU can learn from UW-Madison’s outbreak

We have made it this far without a serious outbreak on campus. According to the University website, as of Sept. 15, we have only had 44 confirmed active cases on campus.

This number is remarkable when compared to the very high numbers at colleges such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Big 10 college has confirmed 2,209 cases of COVID-19 as of Sept. 16. 

Now, the Wisconsin school is taking drastic measures in order to stop the swell of the disease. These measures bring a fear of what could happen to MNSU if a similar outbreak comes to our campus.

Among the measures UW-Madison took include pausing the undergraduate, graduate and professional school group instruction until Sept. 25. Many of these classes will move to full online if possible for these two weeks. 

The most alarming reaction to the outbreak is the placement of two dorm residence halls on a two-week quarantine. All of the residents of these halls will be required to be tested.

The scary part of the quarantine of the residence halls is that students were given a two-hour window to get their affairs in order to prepare for their quarantine. This resulted in students storming the local grocery store in order to prepare for the two weeks of staying in their dorms. 

It would lead many to assume that this Black-Friday-esque attack on the grocer will more likely than not cause even more transmission of the virus, which will only require students to stay in quarantine longer.

So, if MNSU faces a similar increase in cases, how should we handle it?

The idea of an in-dorm quarantine is, as we at The Reporter have stated before, a better idea than a full school closure, due to the risk of bringing the virus to student’s home communities. However, the issue at the UW-Madison campus was panic.

There are two huge lessons that MNSU should learn from UW-Madison. One is that, in the event of a dorm quarantine, students are very worried about having enough food. And two, active communication with students should be paramount. 

One potential solution to students’ food issues could be an emergency grocery delivery service from the campus. This could be created beforehand so that, in the event of a campus shutdown, students would have the option of getting groceries without leaving their dorms. This could limit the amount of off-campus shopping from students and help alleviate panic.

The more important lesson from UW-Madison is that communication from the campus should be paramount. If students knew beforehand that a dorm lockdown was a potential scenario, they can be more prepared for it. Students could stock up on groceries before an outbreak even comes. 

MSU must stay alert, ready and prepared for an outbreak. That includes students, too, and students can only be prepared if the university clearly communicates the possible scenarios.

Header photo: Freshmen Lauren Tamborini and Bailey Donahue move out of Sellery Residence Hall Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wis. (Mark Hoffmann/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)

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