The few safeguards that the Minnesota State University, Mankato has put into place to keep us safe from the COVID-19 pandemic are strong in encouraging social distancing. But they lack public guidance for students who test positive for the virus.
The university claims there are currently only seven students with active cases within MNSU. However, one of the few ways the university knows if there is a case is if the student chooses to report it themselves.
There is a lack of prioritization by the university to encourage reporting a positive test. The current way to report is by calling a hotline listed on the campus website, which is noted as the second bullet point on the “Contact Information” column.
In our basic poll that was sent out to roughly 80 students, roughly 60% had no idea how to even report a positive test to the university.
If the reported number of cases on campus is the basis of the university’s response to COVID-19, these numbers need to be as accurate as possible.
If the university aims to keep their numbers accurate and up to date, they need to be transparent in it’s means of contact tracing as well as put self reporting on the forefront of the student mind.
Other institutions, including Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, enforce reporting and social distancing by using a “mandated reporter” system, where anyone who works for the institution is obligated to report on violations of social distancing and COVID transmissions.
While this “snitch” program may not be the perfect solution for MNSU, the university owes it to the students to be basing its judgments on accurate numbers. If students are unaware of how to report their case, then that means that the current means of gathering information is flawed, and there needs to be an increased effort from the university to encourage the student body to make those reports.
Students are entitled to not only feel safe, but to actually be safe as they get their education at MNSU. If the majority of students who have tested positive for COVID-19 do not know that they should, or do not know how to, report their case, then the university is failing at their job of keeping students informed during these nerve-wracking times.
Header photo: Stacy Leesch gets tested for COVID-19 at the free testing event held in the Myers Field House, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Mankato. (Mansoor Ahmad/The Reporter, file)