In a time where the world is working to control a pandemic, Hilbert College staff, faculty and students have been persevering and thriving through the first 12 weeks of the semester.
At other colleges and universities across Western New York, the state and the country numbers have been substantially higher than the 14 positive cases that have been reported on the Hilbert campus. New York State alone has more than 10,000 cases at 181 schools, according to the Covid College Tracer Tracker put out by The New York Times.
Jennine Lukasik, the head of the Math department at Hilbert College, said the protocols had been followed well throughout in-person learning.
“I don’t have any problems with students not wearing their masks or wiping down their areas before and after class,” she said.
Although Hilbert is a relatively small campus, almost everyone seems to be following the protocols, and those protocols have been working to protect community members, which shows in the small number of positive cases reported.
While some schools like SUNY Oneonta were forced to switch to remote learning just a few weeks into the semester – more than 700 positive cases were reported on the 6,500 student campus this semester – Hilbert was able to continue in-person learning through mid November, just 10 days short of the goal of making it to Thanksgiving break.
The school choose to switch to remote learning, not because of an outbreak on campus, but because of alarming positivity rates in the surrounding community.
Some students at bigger schools have described very different experiences.
Daniel Scully, a senior at the University at Buffalo, said he has seen some students not following protcols on campus.
“For the most part, faculty have been doing everything they can to get students to follow protocols,” Scully said. “I do see students sometimes hanging out in bigger groups without masks which is something that nobody wants to see”.
UB was able to continue in-person learning through the Thanksgiving break, despite crossing just over the state’s 100 active case threshold in the final week.
“I believe that the protocols that the school has put in place are working, but if students do not follow them, they could ruin it for everyone,” Scully said. “If we can just be smart and get through this semester, hopefully, things can start to get back to normal.”
One of the biggest differences between private colleges, such as Hilbert or Canisius College, and public schools such as UB, is that the state school has a much more accessible live update of the number of cases confirmed at all levels of the school.
Scully said he knew the exact amount of cases that had been confirmed to the minute and he is notified every time there’s a new case through the State University of New York covid tracker website.
A Hilbert student must go on the state’s website check how many cases have been reported, which appear in weekly batches.
Amanda Whalen, a sophomore at Canisius College said her school uses an app called Campus Clear that is required to be used by all Canisius students while they are on campus. Whalen said the app is quite easy to use and makes the Covid-19 protocols clear for students.
“At first I thought it was going to be a pain having another thing to do while getting adjusted to the new ways on campus, but Campus Clear has made it easier because all the Covid information that you need is all right there,” Whalen said.
Now, the hope is that students will be able to return to school for in-person learning again next semester. Like other schools, Hilbert officials have pushed back the beginning of the semester and eliminated spring break in an effort to make things run smoothly.
Hilbert Professor Jenelle Lukasik said she thought students did everything they could to keep the community safe this semester.
“I think everything is going very well so far,” Lukasik said. “The seating in classrooms is spaced out enough. Everyone has been staying in their areas, and the cleaning procedures are being clearly followed. It’s as normal as it can be at this point in time and I believe we are on the right track.”