The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Editorial: TCC needs to step up its COVID-19 protocols

Illustrated by Amber Davis

Rising COVID-19 cases should’ve been a sign to keep things remote, but TCC disagrees.
At the beginning of July, the seven-day average started rising in Tarrant County from the double digits to the triple digits, according to The New York Times. By the first day of school, Aug. 23, cases were over a thousand.

The rise in cases wasn’t sudden. There was an obvious trend, but campuses still planned to open for the fall. Even current trends indicate numbers will continue to rise, meaning campuses could potentially close within the coming months or weeks.

It is irresponsible to put staff in a situation where they must choose work over safety. It wouldn’t be such an issue if TCC followed the proper protocol recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One of the CDC’s primary recommendations is masks, and the college merely suggests it because of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s no mask mandate executive orders. It’s counterintuitive to have a campus filled with some students wearing masks and others without. The virus will spread anyway. The worst part is that some classes weren’t offered online, forcing students to show up in person or miss out on a necessary credit for graduation. Also, if a student wanted to work from home, professors have been told they can’t do that.

Another precaution that isn’t being followed is keeping a mandatory six-foot distance away from others. Students huddle together in classes and hallways, shoulder to shoulder masked and unmasked.

On TCC’s website, it offers an exposure report that’s broken down by months. When the number was first reported Aug. 15, it was at 24 total students, staff and faculty with positive cases. Now, the number is at 208 positive cases, with 159 of those cases being students. Here’s the issue with that report. It’s self-reported cases meaning not all cases are being accounted for. There is no way that there have been 208 positive cases on campuses with no masks while 30,000 students walk around. TCC demonstrated a false sense of transparency through these under reported numbers.

The school received $49.7 million from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II in March, and $35 million of that went to student grants. That’s fantastic. One would assume the rest of the money was allocated toward ensuring students’ safety by putting up safety barriers and other equivalent precautions, correct? Incorrect. There are no barriers, no air filters, no arrows on the floor guiding traffic for safety and there are no protocols. Teachers can’t even suggest a mask in their classroom. Everything is business as usual, even after more than 3,900 people died in Tarrant County.

Mandatory vaccinations are a controversial topic but, now that the Food and Drug Administration approved of the Pfizer vaccination, it’s the right time to require it. If TCC can require the meningitis shot, it can require the COVID vaccine.

It would be disingenuous to say the school isn’t doing anything to combat the virus, though. It’s hosting vaccination and testing services for people that want it. These services will be given out on various campuses, even allowing people not enrolled to come and receive a test or vaccination. That’s a smart move. A dumb move is doing all of this while maintaining the same lack of precautions, which is exactly what’s happening.

Students, staff and faculty are going to die because their school failed them.

There need to be a lot more alternatives offered than the ones currently available. If a student is immunocompromised and can’t receive the vaccine but needs a class only offered on campus, they have two choices: Suck it up or delay their education. There is no middle ground. Older professors and students are also walking around campus hoping people will have a kind enough heart to mask up.

TCC needs district wide mandates. These are real lives at stake. Fifty-eight thousand people in Texas have died because of COVID and many more are sure to follow.

It isn’t safe for everybody to be back yet, no matter how much people hunger for normalcy.

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