CCSU Faculty Calling for Increased COVID Restrictions Amid Latest Outbreaks


Derek McLeod

CCSU COVID rates are increasing amid the rise of the highly contagious BA.2 variant.

Derek McLeod, Contributor

Just two weeks after the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities ruled that the COVID-19 situation in Connecticut was safe enough to lessen restrictions imposed on campuses, Central Connecticut State University is in the midst of yet another COVID-19 outbreak.

This comes in the wake of BA.2’s, a subvariant of the Omicron variant, rapid spread across the country. It also coincides with a divide on campus between students and faculty eager to move on from being a masked society and those who are voicing their concerns about the rate at which positive tests are rolling in. However, it appears that despite pushback and concerns from some in the CCSU community, no changes are imminent.

A high volume of posts found on the CCSU Listserv, a public e-mail distribution list that faculty and students alike can subscribe to, detailed many of the worries from the CCSU community regarding the current climate of COVID-19 on campus.

Professors have used the Listserv to voice their displeasure with CSCU’s ruling, and some have suggested that CSCU should reverse its decision to lessen COVID-19 restrictions on campus in the wake of the new variant.

CCSU philosophy professor David Blitz requested that the system office “review and revise the current COVID policy given the surge in the omicron beta variant.” Chief among Blitz’s requests, he and others have called for the mask mandate on campus to be reinstated, given the concerning rise in infections.

Despite the calls for action, Blitz said the feedback he received from the CSCU System office wasn’t positive.

“I did receive a response from the CSCU System office in Hartford to my request to review and revise the COVID policy,” Blitz said. “At this time, they do not envisage modifications, which I think is a mistake.”

CCSU professor Robert Kagan also posted to the CCSU Listserv, referencing the number of students who have called out sick during the two weeks since the restrictions were loosened.

“I have had more students emailing me in the last 10 days that they have tested positive for COVID than in the previous 26 weeks of instruction,” Kagan said. “Unable to open windows in many of the rooms and with virtually all students unmasked, I think we have created a volatile situation.”

“…I am scared s**tless for my aging family members and friends back home, all who are vaccinated, boosted, and still wearing masks,” Catherine Baratta, Associate Professor of Social Work at CCSU, said via the school listserv.

The comments drawn from the e-mail chain have showcased a strong desire by faculty to ensure the health of those on campus during the final stretch of the semester.

“Students have been anxious anyways and it would be so disruptive to students if they were to get ill now with major assignments, presentations, and exams around the corner. The same with my colleagues.” Baratta said in a later statement to The Recorder.

A day after Blitz’s comments, it was announced that the University of Connecticut would be reinstating the mask mandate on campus after a string of positive tests on the Storrs campus. The changes are set to go into effect April 18.

While UConn is not a part of CSCU, a school of UConn’s stature bringing back the COVID-19 regulations in light of the recent positive surge could be a big sign. It will be fascinating to see if CSCU stands its ground against the COVID-19 rules returning, even if it is for the remainder of the semester.

With a month left in the spring 2022 semester, CCSU, along with the other universities a part of CSCU, will most likely be finishing the school year without a mask mandate. However, a public institution such as UConn that operates on their own may lead the way for a new charge against the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.

CCSU’s COVID Weekly Dashboard was frequently updated throughout the pandemic with student vaccination rates, isolation and quarantine counts, number of tests, and positive results broken down by residential, non-residential, and faculty.

It was consistently updated each Friday since the start of the fall 2021 semester. However, the last update posted to the dashboard came during the week of March 21, leaving the past three weeks of COVID-19 tracking unaccounted for.

It will be interesting to see whether the spread of BA.2 during the Easter weekend contributes to a higher percentage of positive tests. If so, it may force CSCU’s hand into making necessary changes to finish the semester off on a safe and healthy note.