Posted on: January 27, 2022 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Graphic by Sarah Schudt

By Nick Stulga, News Editor, and Mariah Trujillo, Editor-in-Chief

As Moraine returns to campus this week, students and faculty will be looking to find a new normal in a shifting landscape.

This will be the most classes Moraine has seen on campus since almost two years ago, when the pandemic shut down campus in March 2020. However, regulations are ever-changing and COVID-19 continues to be unpredictable, with new vaccines, booster shots, and protocols emerging frequently. 

“Pivot” seems to have replaced “unprecedented” as the word of the year. So where are we at Moraine with everything COVID?

“All around us, we are learning how to live more increasingly normal lives with this virus. High schools are back, grade schools are back,” said Troy Swanson, president of the Moraine Valley Faculty Association. “I think we’re in the same boat as everybody else where we’re trying to figure out how to do our business and still keep everybody safe.”

While returning to a “normal” campus life this semester is something everyone wants, safety remains the greatest priority during this time. According to Margaret Lehner, interim vice president of Institutional Advancement, nearly 80 percent of Moraine Valley’s faculty is fully vaccinated, meaning for every five faculty members, four of them have received their vaccinations. Those who are not vaccinated must submit to weekly testing.

“I think the biggest request from the faculty side is: we want to make sure to ask all our students to make sure they are diligent with the rules just as we are,” said Swanson. “If people aren’t feeling well, stay home.”

The latest question on many people’s minds is whether Moraine will require students and employees to receive a booster of the vaccine, as some colleges and universities do. Currently, students on campus are required to be “fully vaccinated,” which does not include a booster.

“We have not made that decision at this time,” said Lehner. “We are constantly monitoring the situation. If any of the college’s requirements change, we will immediately inform our students, staff, and community, giving time to become compliant.”

According to Kent Marshall, dean of students and compliance officer, Moraine’s COVID response team would make that final determination based on recommendations and requirements from the state.

We’re going to give students a break and try to be flexible and make things work while still focusing on learning. And I hope for our students, they give their faculty members a break, too, when necessary.”

Troy Swanson, president of MV Faculty Association

One change students should be looking out for is in regard to the Cleared4Class application, which has a screen all students must show as they enter classes on campus. 

Previously, Cleared4Class ran on three different colored passes: green for anyone cleared either by being vaccinated or tested, red for those not cleared, and purple for visitors to campus. 

The app now displays four different passes; green for students who submitted a negative COVID-19 test, blue for fully vaccinated students, red for students who have COVID or COVID-like symptoms, and purple for visitors. According to Student eNews, if a student displays a purple screen, they are “incorrectly using a visitor profile and will not be allowed on campus.”

This most recent change comes as a result of a new Cook County health order passed on Jan. 3. The order states that “any individual age five and older will be required to show proof of full vaccination to dine indoors, visit gyms or enjoy entertainment venues where food or drink are being served.”

According to Lehner, to ensure Moraine’s Fitness Center (the FitRec) was in compliance with this new order, it was necessary to “distinguish between those who were fully vaccinated and those who were testing every seven days and presenting a negative test.”

To make sure they are up to date with the latest rules, students are encouraged to frequently check their student emails. Updated information can also be found on the student portal and the Moraine Valley website.  

“With any change to the protocols, those using the system must adapt,” said Lehner. “This has caused some confusion most recently with students returning to campus even though messages were sent out to students and staff and to our community members.

“We live in strange times where information and regulations are constantly changing. It is all our responsibility to keep up to remain in compliance.” 

Campus life at Moraine Valley continues to shift as the world continues to grapple with this new way of life brought on by the pandemic. 

“This has been going on for a long time and we’re all trying to do our best,” said Swanson. “I think we [faculty] know that we’re going to give students a break and try to be flexible and make things work while still focusing on learning. And I hope for our students, they give their faculty members a break, too, when necessary.”