Programming faces challenges due to COVID

By Justin Madison

Contributing Writer

In-person event planning has changed due to COVID-19 at St. Michael’s College. With more understanding of the disease attained over the past year, new understandings to handle ourselves and keep everyone safe have allowed people to partake in more social activities. How exactly could in-person activities take place this year at St. Michael’s College?

It may not come as much a surprise that P-day would be canceled this year due to Covid-19. The scale of the event in the past would be too difficult to accommodate with safety regulations this year in order to minimize the risk of an outbreak. Despite this event getting canceled the SGA is currently planning for a spring fair. “Our attempt with [the spring fair] is to have something instead of nothing,” says Anna Witkowski, co-secretary of programming, “We’re planning the spring fair so it’s a little tighter and a little cleaner [than P-day] so that we align with the Vermont guidelines for Covid.” As a result, the SGA is planning a Spring Fair. The event is planned to consist of multiple more dispersed events, such as club-hosted events or food trucks, across campus that students can partake in as they please. It is important to note however that events such as this are a privilege and as Sierah Miles, co-secretary of programming, “We don’t want students to take advantage of the opportunity, we want them to enjoy it but we also want to make sure we can have more events like this later on.”

Her point was emphasized by Witkowski saying “It would be a reward, not an ending to following the guidelines.” No other school is attempting to host an event such as this, because of that, both co-secretaries of programming emphasized that it is a privilege to be able to have an event like this planned and if students take advantage of it or disobey the guidelines, then these types of events can’t go on. In many ways, the spring fair will act as a test to see how events at St. Michael’s College would be able to occur.

Larger schoolwide activities of the past, however, would still be reliant upon the overall situation of the disease and how students manage themselves on campus. In order to host an event, Doug Babcock, director of Public Safety, says, “We would have to follow all requirements from the State of Vermont, and additionally make sure we followed the science about transmission and the circumstances in the state and on campus at the time.” He emphasized the importance of maintaining the general guidelines such as wearing masks and social distancing, which are all incredibly important to minimize the spread of Covid-19.

Adhering to these policies is one of the best things we as a community can do to slow the spread of COVID-19, and with opinion, potentially even hold events like prior years with accommodations due to health and safety protocols. This is still highly dependent on how willing students themselves are willing to adhere to state and school policies, however, so the spread of COVID-19 does not lead to an outbreak. When asked about how students can stay compliant with COVID policies, Babcock said, “The first and most powerful method of compliance is students taking responsibility for their actions and for encouraging their peers to do the same.”

Every person on campus this year has a major part to play in how the college is able to handle events this year, and one of the best methods of adhering to the policies is monitoring how you follow them and encouraging others on campus to do the same. With the ever-changing and evolving nature of the virus and how we have to adapt to our new normal, nothing is set in stone. The best way events at St. Michael’s College can proceed relies heavily on how the community conducts itself to keep our community as safe as possible.