Nearly two months after the spring 2021 semester started, the University of Richmond transitioned into the Red Stage of its Physical Distancing Framework Monday.
“This change represents the lower infection rates within our campus community and a lower percentage of students in isolation and quarantine than we have experienced since the move-in period for the spring semester,” Steve Bisese, vice president of student development, wrote in the March 1 email to the campus community.
The transition comes after UR had been in the Enhanced Red Stage, which placed an emphasis on limiting student movement, since the start of the spring semester. Enhanced Red Stage had initially been scheduled to last only during the move-in period but was later extended to Feb. 7 before the latest extension until Feb. 28 following a rise in COVID-19 cases.
In addition to announcing the transition in his March 1 email, Bisese highlighted some differences between Enhanced Red Stage and Red Stage in his email. On-campus students may now have on-campus visitors in their dorm. Off-campus students are allowed to visit other off-campus houses or apartments, with a limit of ten people.
Another key difference is that UR-sponsored or student organization indoor events with 10 or fewer attendees and outdoor events of 25 or fewer attendees are permitted if attendees can remain 6 feet apart. Students also no longer need to get approval from a college dean for essential trips, including doctor’s appointments and jobs, within the Richmond area during the Red Stage, as they had during the Enhanced Red Stage.
First-year Matteo Gonzalez views the transition as a step in the right direction, he said.
“I haven’t experienced UR ‘normal’ so it’s like we’re getting one step closer to that and that’s just exciting,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez grew fearful of returning home after cases began rising during the first few weeks of the spring semester, he said.
“I thought we were going to go home because we had like 100 cases,” Gonzalez said. “It seems like we’re doing well now.”
Some students feel that the transition to Red Stage does not necessarily signal improvement.
“It almost just seems like a placebo,” junior Annika Kuruvilla said. “They are just telling us that we’re in this new stage to make us feel like we’re getting somewhere when really we’re not and they just want to make us feel better about ourselves.”
Kuruvilla, who lives off-campus, said she was increasingly frustrated with the extension of the Enhanced Red Stage and being prevented from attending in-person classes. Off-campus students were barred from coming to campus and taking in-person classes until Feb. 8.
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“It was really frustrating for them to make this last-minute decision to say that we can’t come on campus, but they just kept extending it,” Kuruvilla said. “The experience you get online is just not the same as in the classroom.”
As the spring semester nears its halfway point, a transition to the next stage will be determined by UR’s resiliency committee, according to the March 1 email.
Contact features writer Quinn Humphrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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