Students at ‘Higher Risk’ Voice Concerns

By Nancy Sanchez-Diaz

Entertainment Editor 

Students with compromised immune systems are concerned about returning back to campus amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have a weak immune system and I’m borderline asthmatic,” said Angelina Rosado, a rising junior studying English, via a text message to The Equinox. 

Rosado said that going back to campus in uncertain times poses a huge risk to not just students with compromised immune systems but their families, too.

“I fear that returning to campus could put myself, my father, and my younger sister at risk,” she said.

Hannah Farrow, a senior double majoring in forensic science and criminal justice, also has concerns about transmission, she said via text message to The Equinox. 

“I have grandparents who are in nursing homes,” she said. “I used to visit them quite often before the pandemic and would hate to contract the disease and not be able to see them.” 

Students in categories deemed high risk may undergo random testing, said President Christopher Capuano via email Tuesday, July 7. 

The policy on student testing was emailed to the entire campus:

“Subject to guidance from health authorities, our plans currently call for testing of students who have symptoms suggesting COVID-19, students who are identified as close contacts of a person who has COVID-19, and possibly students in selected populations identified as being at higher risk of infection. We may also conduct ongoing random testing of students in higher risk categories.”

The email also laid out plans for residence halls. 

“We will make every effort to reduce the density of living spaces by converting all triple rooms to double rooms and increasing the number of single rooms available, particularly for students who are among higher risk populations,” Capuano added.

Generally, students with documented disabilities have the opportunity to register with the office of Disability Support Services, Metro, to receive in-class accommodation and/or housing modifications.   

However, there is no word on how disabled students and students with impaired immune systems will be accommodated in light of COVID-19. 

“Several task force teams are developing a plan that will allow for our safe return to campus,” Dr. Margaret M. Roidi, the director of the academic resource center and disability support services, said via email to The Equinox. 

“As the scope of the process becomes more narrow to the specific needs of our community and its members, stakeholders will be contacted accordingly. Once more information becomes available, it will be communicated by our campus leadership,” Roidi said. 

The stakes are high. According to a CDC health report, patients with underlying conditions are 12 times as likely to die of COVID-19 as compared to healthy people.  

The most common underlying conditions reported in people with COVID-19 were heart disease (32%), diabetes (30%) and chronic lung disease (18%). Other preexisting conditions included liver disease, kidney disease, neurodevelopmental or intellectual disability, and immunocompromised conditions, noted the health report.

The campus’ proximity to New York City, the initial epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, also is of concern to other students. 

“I do think the NY/NJ metropolitan area is taking a lot of precautions, which is a strength, like making masks mandatory,” sophomore marketing major Savannah Ciriaco said via text message to The Equinox. “Still, there is a worry because cases continue to go up in the area.”  

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