And so it begins, the blame game. COVID-19 cases have surged since Northwest resumed in-person classes — shocking — and as a result, students, faculty, administration and community members are beginning to point fingers. Everyone in their own way is accountable for what is happening. No one side is at fault but all must take responsibility for their actions that have led to this extremely predictable outcome.
Perhaps the epicenter of the ongoing battle of blame was the email Northwest President John Jasinksi sent out Aug. 21. Jasinski didn’t even attempt to veil the accusation that the spike in COVID-19 cases was the fault of off-campus students.
“Just three days into classes, we are seeing a concerning increase in students with COVID-19 symptoms after attending off-campus gatherings last weekend without social distancing or face coverings,” Jasinski stated in the email.
Later in the email, there was also a somewhat smug reference to re-reading the “Being a Bearcat” expectations which completed the “this is all your fault” arc of his message.
Jasinski is right in the fact that off-campus gatherings have resulted in the spread of the virus. He conveniently neglected to acknowledge that he, along with other members of the administration, approved bringing 7,000 people together during a pandemic.
Jasinski also listed numerous on-campus events that students are welcome to attend as though all of those are being rigorously monitored. They aren’t. Plenty of students and staff can be seen at on-campus events two feet apart with a mask pulled below their nose.
Classrooms on campus are not always socially distant, as there are numerous classes where there are no empty seats. Students and staff alike are confused about everything from how long they are supposed to quarantine if they are exposed to where they are supposed to go to be tested.
Students aren’t off the hook either. The common excuse being that 18-to-22-year-olds can’t be expected not to go out. You mean literal adults can’t follow the simple guidelines that have been in place for months now. It’s wearing a mask, not going out and staying home when you feel symptoms. It’s not that hard to follow.
Northwest is already seeing a large population of its students in quarantine. With each passing day, it seems the Zoom queue fills for class as the in-room count lowers.
However, it seems that many who are quarantined believe that being in quarantine just means you can’t go to class. It doesn’t. It means you shouldn’t be around people at all. That means no excursions to Applebee’s for half-price appetizers and no trips out to Mozingo with friends for a swim. Northwest students are adults, and whether they like it or not, they are accountable for ignoring guidelines and pushing the University to the brink of online-only classes.
The general public of Maryville also needs to be held accountable. The same issues of not following proper guidelines can be extended to the community as a whole. It wasn’t but more than a month ago that a prominent Maryville bar and grill decided to fly in the face of science and logic and ban masks.
Trips to Walmart, Hy-Vee and other Maryville hotspots are littered with “townies” that have the mask resting under their chin as they blatantly ignore the 6-feet threshold. And driving around the ’Ville on the weekends, not all the large gatherings passed will be composed of Bearcats.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that getting through it will be a group effort. Each individual from the President’s Office to the first-semester freshmen is responsible for doing their part. We’re all adults, so let’s take accountability for our actions and start acting like it.