GV moves to COVID-19 alert level one, students voice their concerns


GVL / Sydney Lim

Lauren Formosa, Staff Writer

Under the guidance of local health departments and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Grand Valley State University has revised its COVID-19 guidelines.

In an email sent out on March 2, the GVSU Virus Action Team (VAT) announced that the university would be moving to alert level one and revising the face mask policy. 

The decision was made by monitoring campus and regional health metrics or “indicators,” VAT Director Greg Sanial said. 

The indicators listed on the Lakers Together website suggest that the university is currently at low risk for COVID-19 outbreaks and the factors have lessened, regardless of the university starting spring break a few days later. 

The timing of moving to level one was driven by a drop in the indicators such as fewer cases and fewer people in quarantine, not so much the calendar,” Sanial said.

The VAT determined that while most current guidelines could remain in effect, it was safe to revise the face mask policy. 

As outlined in the new policy, masks are still required in classrooms and other academic settings. However, masks are no longer required in the recreation and wellness center, Kirkhof Center and other common areas around campus. 

After the announcement was shared via email and on social media, it sparked confusion and concern from the campus community. 

Over 200 people commented on GVSU’s Facebook post about the new alert level and revised mask policy.

Much of the confusion from students came from a “lack of clarity” in the new mask policy. Many students were questioning the university as to where on campus masks are and aren’t required, such as in hallways or in elevators.

In addition to this, there was also some criticism with the university’s decision to move to alert level one. 

Some students on social media, like Cristina Randazzo, said they were shocked when the news came out. 

After what some have seen as “minimal effort” by the university to mitigate COVID-19 cases earlier in the semester, comments under GVSU’s posts don’t seem to agree that this is a step in the right direction for student safety. 

My first reaction to the VAT’s email last week was disbelief,” Randazzo said. “Earlier in the semester, when COVID-19 cases were worse, there wasn’t a shift in alert levels when there should have been. I feel like they were quick to change alert levels down but refused to move it up when it needed to be.”

Along with the confusion about where masks would and wouldn’t be enforced, those on social media were also wondering if keeping the mask requirements only for classrooms, libraries and other academic settings would do anything to keep students, staff and faculty safe. 

Randazzo said she has little faith in other students “doing the right thing” by adjusting to the new mask mandate to keep others on campus safe.

“It’s not like anyone was patrolling for masks before the rules were revised, so does it really make a difference?” Randazzo said. “So many students weren’t wearing a mask before the rules were changed or wearing them incorrectly so why does it matter now? Students are still going to parties, out to bars, hanging out with large groups despite there being a pandemic. All I can do is worry about myself at this point.”  

Despite concerns from the community about shifting to alert level one before spring break, GVSU COVID-19 guidelines will remain the same once students come back from vacation and the VAT will continue to monitor COVID-19 cases on campus.   

“We will continue to monitor health indicators and confer with area health leaders, as the Virus Action Team has done since the start of the pandemic,” Sanial said.

Students and others around campus can review alert level one details as well as the revised mask policy on the Lakers Together website.