GV moves COVID-19 alert level to zero, signaling widespread change for all on-campus protocols


GVL / Meghan Tripp (Landgren)

Zoë Murphy, Staff Writer

Following two years of stringent safety protocols on the campus of Grand Valley State University aimed at minimizing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, campus authorities have now rescinded restrictions and have moved the university to its lowest alert level.

Approaching the fall 2022 semester, the GVSU’s Virus Action Team (VAT), formed to address the pandemic on the university level, has transitioned the campus to alert level zero. Following a relaxation in alert protocols toward the end of the winter 2022 semester. 

According to the university’s Lakers Together website, under alert level zero restrictions in face-to-face instruction, on-campus work, residential areas, dining and access to on-campus resources have been removed. In addition, face coverings are no longer required in campus spaces, with the exception of private offices should faculty and staff choose to require them. 

The VAT has also announced its own self-reduction, transforming itself into a “mini-VAT” tasked with the continued monitoring of health indicators on campus and in the region, should cases once again rise to actionable levels. The original VAT email and COVID-19 Data Dashboard have been discontinued as the transition began in early May.

In surrounding areas, COVID-19 prevalence has dropped significantly from past levels. Although the expanded presence of the new and more transmissible BA.5 variant has caused cases to rise somewhat, cases remain lower than during the emergence of previous variants and surges.

In GVSU’s Ottawa County, the seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases stood at almost 127 cases as of July 28, down from an average of 588 cases during the virus’s most recent surge in January. Kent County maintained an average of 148 daily cases as of July 26.

Although GVSU had remained open to hybrid learning practices and students were able to return to campus, restrictions and alternative formats impacted students’ ability to experience a typical college environment.

With restrictions now virtually absent, some GVSU students are expressing positivity and optimism in response to the new relaxation of protective measures. GVSU junior Lauren Lefevre said she feels the relaxation of COVID-19 prevention measures is warranted, given the current state of the pandemic.

“It makes more sense since the cases are slowing down and not affecting as many people,” Lefevre said.

Lefevre said she was excited about numerous implications the alert transition would have, including not having to wear masks in dorms anymore, no masks in the rec center, classrooms aren’t socially distanced and there being more in-person activities to attend on campus.

Having experienced a collegiate atmosphere both before and during the pandemic, fifth year GVSU student Audrey North has gained perspective on both environments.

“The academic experience was very different,” North said. “Most of my classes were online and, with starting the nursing program, I was meeting my cohort for the first time through a camera. It was hard for me to adjust to classes being online because I had to be more accountable for my work.”

As students return for the fall 2022 semester, many students are likely to feel an adjustment in response to the absence of restrictions that had become ubiquitous with the collegiate experience over two and a half years of COVID-19 campus life.