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EDITORIAL: Our vaccine rate is promising but CMU can do better


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When it comes to handling COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, Central Michigan University has seen some success during this semester following a decent 2020-21 academic year. 

Last year, CMU proved to students, faculty, staff, parents and community members they could offer a university experience while keeping students safe. We were constantly reminded of the case count and received constant communication in regards to COVID-19 and the importance of mental health was stressed. 

This semester, however, there has been less dialogue and less emphasis on physical and mental health, so there is room for improvement.

For example, CMU has a 79.48 percent vaccination rate among the overall university community. Although 92.58 percent of staff and 90.14 percent of faculty are vaccinated, only 77.3 percent of students are vaccinated.

It starts with us students. If you are not vaccinated, get vaccinated. It's been a year since the vaccinations became available to the public. Most of the population is vaccinated and are fine. The FDA has approved them. What more do you need?

In the end, it is your choice whether or not to get vaccinated. However, if you decide against it, make sure you continue to get tested weekly. If you are vaccinated, you need to stay on top of receiving booster shots as they become available. It's our responsibility to hold ourselves accountable and keep one another safe.

We can raise the vaccination rates here on campus, we can keep ourselves, our professors, our roommates and families safe.

Michigan State University and the University of Michigan have COVID-19 vaccine mandates, with limited religious and health exemptions. MSU has a 90.2 percent student vaccination rate and the U of M has a 98 percent student vaccination rate.

CMU may not have vaccine mandates for the general population but we do for those involved in theatre productions, the marching band and athletes. They have all seen success. 

Students, get vaccinated so we don't need a mandate. Administrators, look at the success at other schools and consider mandates.

The university has done a good job with hosting vaccine and testing clinics which have been helpful and meet the constant demand.

Regardless of the good work that has been done, the administration and CMU community can continue to do better.

For instance, throughout the semester, students, faculty and staff have been confused about who is in charge of enforcing masks and how to handle being sick.

The CMU administration needs to have better communication with the rest of the campus community and develop safe, clear protocols with strong repercussions. 

Although CMU has a high vaccination rate, the rates of those infected with COVID-19 have been on par with those during both semesters last year.

As of Nov. 24, about 3.5 percent – 526 people – of the CMU community contracted COVID-19. Last semester, CMU had fewer cases with 3.28 percent of the community – 436 people. 

Even though cases are higher than last spring, CMU has been less accommodating with those who are sick and those who are scared of contracting the illness.

The university no longer requires CMU faculty to offer HyFlex options. We are no longer required to socially distance in classrooms.

CMU administration, instead of pretending this semester is normal, give us the same flexibility options as last year. 

Have all classes offer a HyFlex option again, but offer support and resources for faculty to do so. Allow students the opportunity to decide to make courses credit or no credit until a week after grades are in. 

The pandemic is not over. There is another variant of COVID-19 making its way around the world. Although education is a priority, mental and physical health is important too. We are not back to normal and won't be for a while. Until then we are trying our best.

We can (and should,) do better.

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