Winona State COVID-19 precautions returning to pre-pandemic levels


Carolyn Hauschild

Students have started the year by taking advantage of the Darell Krueger Library and other spots on campus to hang out mask-free. With Winona State no longer having a mask mandate, it is up to students to take precaution if they don’t feel comfortable.

Sophia Sailer, Editor-in-Chief

Fall of 2022 is the first year since Fall of 2019 that students and faculty have returned to Winona State University without requiring masks, hand sanitizer or social distancing. After spring break last semester, students and faculty were allowed on campus mask-free, but 2022 is the first full year that this will hopefully be the case.

Connie Kamara, the director of health and wellness services at Winona State, gave some insight to what that means and where we are headed as a university.

Kamara commented on the levels of COVID-19 that Winona State is experiencing so far this year.

“Based on who is self-reporting, we have a steady number coming in each week. We suspect that there are a lot of people that are not self-reporting, so the actual number is not known,” Kamara said.

Kamara also specified that the last reporting period, which was from last Monday to this previous Sunday, had a recorded 24 cases.

Although, when it comes to campus vaccination rates, Kamara explained that Winona State currently does not know this information.

“We can see initial doses, but we cannot see who has gotten boosters. The fact of who has gotten boosters would tell us how protected our campus really is,” Kamara said.

Kamara explained what changes that students can take to keep the campus safe.

“Sitting a few feet away makes a difference. Wearing a mask, if you feel more comfortable wearing one, makes a difference. I also hope that more students get their flu shots and boosters, which will make a huge difference,” Kamara said.

Kyra Lepsch, a fourth-year mass communication: creative digital media student , talked about how she feels not wearing a mask on-campus.

“It is strange not having to wear masks on campus. We went back to ‘normal’ a lot quicker than I expected. Although there are still concerns of getting COVID, it is nice seeing everyone’s faces and being able to connect more,” Lepsch said.

Lepsch continued, explaining how she was not aware that COVID positive students are being held in the Morey-Shephard residence hall, but that she still feels safe knowing that they are there.

“I actually did not know that isolation patients were being held in The Quad. I feel okay about that, considering they are not exposed to the public on campus,” Lepsch said.
Jess Weis, a fourth-year student studying mass communication: public relations and minoring in women’s gender and sexuality studies, has similar thoughts to masks not being worn this year.

“Although it has been a long two years on WSU’s campus, I have mixed feelings about being without masks. I think it is simply wonderful that we can see each other’s smiling faces and able to interact with each other in a closer proximity. However, I find a conflict with keeping in mind that COVID does still exist in our world and that some people are still neglecting that fact,” Weis said.

Weis pointed out that since West Campus being sold, Winona State does not have many options for isolation spaces for students experiencing the virus.

“I think WSU was put in a tough situation ever since removing West Campus and are doing the best they can with the resources given to them,” Weis said.
Weis also pointed out the flaws in Winona State’s other option to ‘go home’ if you test positive.

“I think it is slightly unfair to students to be expected to ‘go home’ if they test positive–especially if the rest of their family is negative, or if their home life is not perfect, as well as the number of international students we have cannot just simply ‘go home’. I think WSU has a few things they can improve on for isolation. I would suggest administration polling the positive students to see what needs to be done to meet their needs during that difficult time,” Weis said.