Careful Reopening Required for Spring Semester


Students are returning to academic campuses despite concerns about COVID-19. (Courtesy of

Though 2020 has finally drawn to a close, the COVID-19 pandemic has not proven to be any less of a challenge in the new year. January 2021 marked the deadliest month of the pandemic thus far, with over 95,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the United States. While some schools have canceled their plans to reopen, colleges and universities across the country have reopened for the spring 2021 semester. 

Although closing is likely the safest option, it is unrealistic to keep universities and other institutions completely closed amid the pandemic. However, if schools decide to open, precautions must be upheld, and students must make responsible choices to protect their safety and that of the community as a whole.

Despite the risks, Fordham’s decision to reopen for the spring remains a reasonable choice. With proper safety precautions in place, it is certainly possible to reduce the spread of the virus whilst keeping members of the university community safe. Fordham had a relatively successful fall semester in terms of bringing students and faculty back to campus. Classes were held both remotely and in person, with mandatory face masks and social distancing where necessary. In-person campus activities were limited, and traditional experiences such as visiting the dining hall were altered to meet safety requirements.

When students returned in late August, the warm weather made it easier to safely enjoy campus. Once the weather became colder, COVID-19 rates went up. In fact, cases rapidly increased as the fall semester drew to a close. Though the university never met the 100-case threshold that New York State established for remote instruction, over 50 cases were reported during a single two-week period in November

As the spring semester begins with near-freezing temperatures and snowstorms, options for safe activities are limited. With this reality comes the concern that indoor gatherings, which are far more likely to spread the virus, will rapidly increase the number of on-campus cases. The significant spike in COVID-19 cases following the holidays proves the repercussions of not adhering to social distancing guidelines. While it is frustrating to not have as many options to see friends in person, unsafe gatherings are not worth the risk.

The Fordham administration must ensure that all members of the Fordham community follow its protocols. As students, we cannot be afraid to have the sometimes awkward conversations about safety. This pandemic will not last forever, but the consequences will. While you may think you aren’t personally at risk, engaging in activities against guidelines from medical experts can put others at risk who may be far more vulnerable.

Another crucial measure Fordham must continue to improve upon in the spring semester is testing. At the beginning of the fall semester, the university did not provide clear guidelines for how testing would be conducted, who would have access to a test and how many tests individuals could receive. Accessibility to testing and transparency in reporting community testing numbers are vital to mitigating the spread of COVID-19 within the campus community. 

It is incredibly difficult to come to terms with just how much this pandemic has taken from our college experience. For those of us who are seniors, the loss of long-awaited traditions can be especially disappointing. However, we must continue to be responsible despite these frustrations. 

This is not the spring semester any of us had hoped for. Last March, we did not think this pandemic would affect the fall semester, let alone 2021. But this virus has not gone anywhere. More contagious variants are emerging, and infection rates remain alarmingly high.

With the introduction of a vaccine, there is a light at the end of the tunnel appearing, however dim it may be. But vaccines alone will not end the pandemic. Social distancing, wearing face masks and other protective measures must remain in place. Even if you have already been vaccinated, these precautions remain crucial. There will be a time in which all of these protocols are a thing of the past, but until then, please continue to be responsible.


Kelly Christ, FCRH ’21, is an English and psychology major from Long Island, N.Y.