When Is The Vaccine Arriving On Campus? What We Know So Far.

Talk about the vaccine arriving to Saint Anselm College has been swirling on campus, but the vaccine might not be arriving any time soon. According to the COVID-19 support page on Canvas, the college may be getting the vaccine around March. But amid some road bumps in New Hampshire’s vaccine rollout, the likelihood seems slim. 

“I think I’d be surprised if [the vaccine arrives] in March,” said President Favazza. “I would say it’s more likely April or May than March, but we just don’t know. There’s so many unknowns with the vaccine rollout.” 

The estimated timeframe of New Hampshire’s vaccine distribution plan is heavily dependent on vaccine doses that are allocated from the federal government and how many people are vaccinated. 

The state of New Hampshire is currently in Phase 1B of it’s vaccine distribution plan, which includes residents 65 and older and medically vulnerable residents under 65. Phase 2B includes residents aged between 50 and 64 and those living in congregate living settings. The college has been designated as one of those living settings. 

“The state of New Hampshire has told us that we would be a point of distribution, but we would be a private point of distribution which means that we would only give the vaccine to our staff, faculty, and students.” explains Favazza. 

All students will receive the vaccine when it becomes available to the college, including those living off-campus and commuter students said Favazza. 

But while it is unclear when the vaccine will arrive on campus to vaccinate the Saint Anselm Community, the college wants to make clear that anyone who can get the vaccine, should get it. For example, nursing students, the monks living in the monastery, and Director of Health Services Maura Marshall have all been vaccinated. 

“I encourage everyone to get the vaccine whenever they can get it,” said Favazza. “The more that we have folks on campus with [the vaccine], it’s just gonna make sense that our numbers are going to go down,” 

COVID-19 Update: An Outbreak Amid New Changes to Saint Anselm College’s COVID Policies and Protocols

As new COVID-19 cases in New Hampshire are tracked to its colleges and universities, Saint Anselm College finds itself included in the upward trend. At the 11th meeting of the Student Senate at the start of the week, President Favazza expressed optimism that the college would be able to enter yellow phase. However, after an uptick in cases, the college will remain in orange phase for the time being.

“We’re up to 20 something [COVID-19 cases this week]. Which we’ve never had, even in the fall semester, we’re gonna stay in orange for now,” said Favazza. “We just got to see some trending in the right direction. We’re not looking for zero positives. We’re looking for small numbers to take some pressure off of our isolation and quarantine space.” 

In reaction to an extreme uptick of cases on their campuses, the University of New Hampshire, Franklin Pierce University, along with others, have gone fully remote in an effort to keep their communities safe. 

On the college’s COVID-19 dashboard, Favazza noted phase red was there for a reason. “If it keeps going up, [phase red] is absolutely on the table,” said Favazza. “I’m hoping that we don’t get there.” 

What’s changed on campus?

After listening to student concerns and an unprecedented fall semester, Saint Anselm College implemented new policies and protocols to try to better address COVID-19. With these changes comes the phase reopening system, increased testing capacity, and efforts for more transparency  between the administration and the student body. 

What has not changed is the college’s need for a “bubble.” The addition of two testing machines has significantly increased the college’s testing capacity. “For move-in testing, we did 400 a day, which is a lot. And then when we repeated to secure the bubble, we did it again,” says Maura Marshall, director of Health Services.

With the increase in testing capacity, the college can more often test students that are higher-risk than others, such as commuters and athletes. With regards to other students that live on campus and do not have to leave for other commitments such as internships or medical appointments, they are tested alphabetically.

“We have certain students that are frequently traveling off-campus, so they go once a week, and then the other ones, we fill in through the alphabet.”

“That’s where people are getting [COVID-19], they’re getting it from off-campus” noted Marshall. “They’re leaving campus frequently, so we want to keep testing them on a regular basis.

In an email to discourage students from leaving campus, Director of Department of Safety and Security, Rob Browne, it was announced that a third-party security firm would be staffed at entry points to campus, during Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. 

As draconian as the effort sounded, the gates are meant to be a reminder to not leave campus, rather than a real, physical, security checkpoint. “Even though it may feel like it, we are not a prison,” Favazza said, laughing. “We’re not gonna put fences up, spotlights, guard dogs and everything else.” 

Favazza stressed that the risk of leaving campus is not only the possibility of outbreaks on campus, but also spreading COVID-19 to the surrounding area that is not a part of the Saint Anselm community. The rise of COVID-19 cases in NH colleges serves as a reminder that students also have a responsibility to protect others and keep the local community safe as well, said Favazza. 

Saint Anselm College’s COVID-19 prevention efforts: more reactive than proactive

As the average daily number of new cases in New Hampshire continues to rise, more than doubling now, from 40 new cases a day to 100 new cases a day, worries stir on campus over the college’s COVID-19 response. 

With COVID-19 cases rising in New Hampshire as well as nationally, the second semester will provide a new set of challenges for the college. The Hilltopper spoke with some of the students who have spent time in isolation housing as well as Director of Health Services Maura Marshall to better understand how these circumstances will impact the remainder of the year.

Saint Anselm College has seen a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases compared to other schools in the area such as the University of New Hampshire. Marshall attributes the low transmission rate across campus to the college’s ability to quickly find and isolate outbreaks on campus.

“It has to do with how quickly we can identify the cases,” said Marshall. “I think being from a small campus . . . we can get to the students a lot quicker.”

Students that have been in isolation housing agree with Marshall’s sentiment that the college has been quick with placing students in isolation once they have tested positive.

One student that tested positive said, “I got a call from Maura an hour after my [positive COVID] test. Then she told me I tested positive and she told me to pack my stuff.”

Most students in isolation housing were placed in Collins house, across the street from the college. Students that were in Collins say that they were provided adequate provisions, such as personal protection equipment (hand sanitizer, masks, and disinfectant wipes).

“Those big air loud purifier machines, every floor had one of those. Every floor had hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipe dispensers,” said one student. “Every floor had their own supplies basically.”

Students that were placed in Collins house were given some guidance on what to do in the case of a severe incident. One student recalled a particularly stressful moment in isolation.

“One night, one kid had really bad symptoms, and he was feeling really bad. And we were like, at what point [do we call 911]?” said one student. Students were given guidance in a pamphlet, but unsurprisingly, it was discarded by most students. 

“I’m pretty sure the paper said something, but like you know, in the moment, you’re not gonna like [remember],” they said.

That student has since recovered, but students still say it is unclear why more was not done to inform students about how to respond to medical emergencies while in Collins.

Contact tracing and quarantine for close contacts

The Hilltopper spoke with some students who went out of their own way to request a test out of their own moral responsibility.

“I went out with my friend, and then my friend’s roommate tested positive. So then me and the kid I was with, who hung out with him, went to health services and requested a test.”

Students that do not voluntarily request tests have to be tracked down through contact tracing. The State of New Hampshire leads the contact tracing effort throughout the state, including all colleges in New Hampshire.

“The state is in charge of contact tracing, so as soon as a student tests positive, we have to report that to the state,” said Marshall. “We have to identify close contacts, the state does this, but I help them a little bit . . . A close contact is defined as anyone that you’ve been in contact with less than six feet for more than ten minutes in the last 48 hours.” 

Close contacts are placed in quarantine for 14 days, either in their room or another residence hall. 

“They sent me to Holy Cross and Holy Cross has a pod that’s completely empty that they save for people that are close contacts. I would get tested like every four days,” said one student who was placed in quarantine and later tested positive. 

In this specific instance of quarantine, The Hilltopper was told that close contacts were not completely isolated from each other. 

The close contacts that were placed in Holy Cross had individual rooms, but still shared a kitchen and bathroom, presenting the possibility for transmission among the close contacts if one did carry COVID-19. 

The student that tested positive in Holy Cross said that they were the only one to test positive in that specific quarantine. 

“The rest of the pod, they were getting tested after me, none of them tested positive . . . I was the only one that tested positive. I told them to stay away since I figured I had it,” they said. 

Only slightly harsher policies

After the recent spike in cases, the college has had to clamp down harder on off-campus travel. A little more than a week ago, President Favazza sent a stern letter reminding students to not go off-campus, especially if going to more high-risk areas such as bars. The most notable part of the letter was the announcement that there will now be gatekeepers at all entrances and exits.

“Starting today, gatekeepers will be taking down the names of all students who leave campus and the time of their departure. They also will be time-stamping the time students return to campus,” said Favazza in the letter.

While the letter suggested that gatekeepers will always be present, they are normally only there during the evening on Thursday through Sunday, the days when most off-campus travel happens.

Additionally, the gatekeepers’ exact time schedules have been observed to be inconsistent, sometimes staying until midnight, and other times, leaving their post by 10:00 pm. 

The college has emphasized they want to avoid draconian-like policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The gatekeeper’s schedule reflects the college’s hesitance to establish stricter and harsher policies on campus. 

“Little ticking time-bombs”

The semester is ending which means around 2,000 students will be going home for winter break. This is happening as COVID-19 cases are rapidly surging in New Hampshire. Gov. Sununu has estimated that by the end of November, new COVID-19 cases will reach 1,000 per day. Only a small number of colleges and universities are requiring students to test negative for COVID-19 prior to their departure. 

Saint Anselm College is not one of these institutions requiring exit tests. 

The college has also not encouraged students to take exit tests before leaving. The most recent data regarding COVID-19 sent out to students reveals that as of November 12th, 81 students are currently either in quarantine or isolation. 

In an interview from The New York Times, A. David Paltiel, a professor of health policy and management at the Yale School of Public Health, said “there’s a responsibility not to unleash little ticking time bombs.”

Without mandatory exit testing, or even encouraged exit testing, there is a real possibility of students carrying COVID-19 back home. In the most recent COVID-19 health update from Marshall, the college has opted to ask students themselves to plan ahead with their families for when they return home.

In a recent email from Marshall, she told students, “If you foolishly decide to take a risk this weekend, please have a conversation about a plan and arrangements with your family.” 

Meghan Query contributed to this story

Trump Makes a Case for Law and Order at the R.N.C.

With the Republican National Convention concluded, the Trump Campaign’s message has become clear; Trump will bring law and order to a country that is riddled with crime and violence.

The convention was a departure from several norms of the past, including a stronger focus on the opposing candidate. The GOP stated they did not have a new platform, but rather that they continue to support the President’s platform from 2016. The convention was staged at the White House South Lawn and numerous speakers were White House staffers. Critics have said this convention has clearly violated the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act is an act that prevents civil service employees from engaging in political campaign activities with the exception of the President and Vice President. White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows responded to these criticisms with “Nobody outside of the Beltway really cares.”

Frankly, Meadows is right. Few voters actually care about the President using the White House as a staging ground for the convention. To the majority of Americans, the Hatch Act is completely meaningless.  What most people will actually see is an extravagant pageant with the President promising Americans that he will bring safety and security to their home.

Several speakers in the R.N.C. presented Trump as a keeper of peace. Vice President Mike Pence told viewers they “will not be safe in Joe Biden’s America”. The Vice President along with several other speakers emphasized to viewers that they “will always stand with those who stand on the thin blue line”. There were several claims that Joe Biden would defund the police, a claim that has been fact-checked as false and misleading by numerous sources already.

The final night of the convention presented a strong case for President Trump. Ann Marie Dorn, the widow of a retired St. Louis Police Captain David Dorn spoke at the R.N.C. about her husbands death, who was shot and killed during a violent protest in St. Louis, Missouri.  In a heartbreaking and powerful speech, Ann Dorn describes the horror of the night her husband died. “They shot and killed David in cold blood” she said, “and then livestreamed his execution and his last moments”. Compared to the rest of the speakers, Ann Dorn proved herself to be one of the most convincing speakers to sway voters for the incumbent president.

However, David Dorn’s daughters were against his widow speaking at the R.N.C. They have said Dorn was not a Trump supporter and would not have wanted his death to be used to help Trump.

Trump’s personal attorney and former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani also spoke on night four of the R.N.C., delivering an aggressive speech making a case that Joe Biden is “a Trojan horse with Bernie, AOC, Pelosi, Black Lives Matter, and his party’s entire left wing just waiting to execute their pro-criminal, anti-police socialist policies.”

As the President took the stand and accepted the nomination, he unleashed a barrage of accusations and attacks on Joe Biden and Democrats. He called Biden “the destroyer of America’s greatness”. If Joe Biden were elected, Trump said “China would own our country”.

The President also repeated his common claim that he has “done more for the African-American community than any president since Abraham Lincoln.”

The convention showcased the GOP’s concern of losing its moderate white voters. Speakers at the convention were noticeably diverse. A large amount of those speakers were African Americans. Interestingly enough, it appeared the GOP was not interested in appealing to Hispanics and Asian Americans, who vote for them in higher numbers than African Americans. Instead, the GOP was attempting to reassure moderate white voters that they were voting for the right side and avoided trying to sway undecided Black voters to vote with them.

Trump continued his blaming of Democrats for the violence and crime in America.

“In the strongest possible terms, the Republican Party condemns the rioting, looting, arson, and violence we have seen in Democrat-run cities all, like Kenosha, Minneapolis, Portland, Chicago, and New York, and many others, Democrat-run,” Trump said, referring to protests that sparked over police brutality and racism in the United States.

Whether or not Trump’s message of law and order is working has yet to be clearly seen. The Morning Consult conducted two polls at the start and end of the R.N.C. Prior to the convention, Biden led Trump 52% to 42%. Following the convention, Trump narrowed the lead, reducing Biden’s advantage to four points, with Biden at 50% and Trump at 44%