New portal shows testing results of students, faculty, and staff

Data collected from on campus testing and Inspired Health Group are now posted to Hilbert’s new COVID-19 identification portal.

With covid protocols remaining in effect on campus because of the global pandemic, a new tool has been developed that can give clarity to those wanting to know how the virus is spreading on campus. New this semester is a feature that can be found underneath the “Coronavirus Update” section on the college’s website that displays the number of tests, the number of positive tests and the status of those in quarantine.

Dr. Chris Siuta, director of Counseling Center, said that last semester felt like a carnival game for most students and faculty trying to get information on campus cases. Some felt that there were more cases on campus than were being reported.

“My sense is that there is relief for students and employees alike that they are more knowledgeable of what’s happening on campus day to day,” Siuta said.

As we approach a year since the pandemic struck and changed life as we know it, one thing stays the same: safety protocols. Identification certainly brings clarity for some, yet others like Sophomore Toriann Wipperman wish that they were also able to find out where exactly an infected person was at on campus prior to their test results.

“I think it could be better at alerting people maybe what classes people take and stuff, so you know if you were in contact with someone that has it,” said Wipperman.

Cleanliness and sanitization around campus continues to remain a top priority. From antibacterial wipes to hand sanitizer dispensers every few feet, it is clear the administration is going to great lengths to keep the Hilbert community safe.

“It seems like cases are coming from outside areas and the students just happen to go to Hilbert,” said Wipperman. “It doesn’t seem like its spreading around campus.”.

After the data is collected, it is later passed on to Health & Safety who complete the next steps, said Siuta.

“Most of the times, the testing has been done on campus or at the medical group,” he said. “People are testing outside of Hilbert, at the medical group, and they will call me so that I can do contact tracing.”

As this new portal brings data and peace of mind to campus, it comes during a turning point as the vaccine distribution has begun around the country. With the difficulty of the vaccine rollout, it is evident that few faculty and students have received initial doses.

“Very few students have been vaccinated,” said Siuta “We still have a long way to go.”

Siuta said that depending on the percentage of people vaccinated and how herd immunity is, by summer COVID-19 could be controlled.  

“Hopefully by the fall we’ve really overcome this virus.”

Students Take Part in Welcome Week Fun

The new semester will bring about new classes, new friends, reunions and a welcome week full of activities that will help promote all three.

Each semester there are many events to give students fun things to do inbetween classes and while taking breaks from work. This welcome week continues to remain different as COVID-19 restrictions are still in place, resulting in most events being held virtually or with changes to encourage social distancing. Regardless of the changes, these are opportunities that students are encouraged to attend as they can lead to new friendships and an opportunity to escape the difficulties of this challenging time.

Daniel Heims, Director of Student Activities, said that there are a wide range of activities and events that are designed to welcome students back and make them feel comfortable while beginning another semester amidst the pandemic.

“Welcome Week is an opportunity for students to get involved in events on campus while having fun with their friends,” he said. “Student Activities and the Campus Activity Board are excited to bring these activities to our students and look forward to seeing them at the events.”

After the virtual escape room event Wednesday night, sophomore Lynn Adams-Gilden said that she enjoyed the event virtually, as it allowed her to attend while still being at home with her kids.

“I mean it’s more relaxed, but it’s more challenging,” Adams-Gilsten said. “You’re not in person with the things in your hand that you need to do it.”

A virtual paint night will be offered Friday starting at 8:00 p.m. Students will need to sign up in advance on Purple Briefcase. After initial registration is completed, students will receive follow up information on how to pick up their brushes and other supplies for the event.

“We will have fun painting a sea star with a beach and sand,” Heims said.

Dean of Students Gregory Roberts and Barb DeLarosa from the Student Life office hand out Wolf of Gubbio kits

Events from earlier in the week included free donut holes and hot cocoa and an opportunity to assemble Wolf of Gubbio stuffed animals.

With the vaccine rollout occurring, students are eager to see if more events for the rest of the semester may be in person instead of virtual.

“I think it’s going to be a mix. We are doing our best to follow restrictions from NYS,” Heims said. “Expect to see a combo of smaller in person to virtual events from not only Student Activities, but also Service Learning.”

Heims said that if students have ideas for future events, they should contact Student Activities.

Hilbert Students Have Mixed Emotions About Being on Campus

With the fall 2020 semester halfway complete, students are in the swing of their routines.

From arriving to campus, sitting in their lecture halls, or meeting a fellow Hawk for coffee, things look different this semester at Hilbert. As many new precautions have been put in place to keep students, faculty, and staff safe, some students feel that some of these precautions are beneficial and others are trying to find a balance.

Sisters Haley and Toriann Wipperman,have different views on the way that things are going when asked about the sanitation in classrooms

Sophomore Toriann Wipperman said she is still adjusting to the new protocols.

“I’m somewhere in the middle,” Toriann Wipperman said. “It’s like decent. The one classroom I was in ran out of wipes to wipe down the desks and we kept asking for them to get refilled and it took a few days. It took a while.”

Based off the CDC’s recommendation, a face covering over both the nose and mouth should be worn in public spaces when a six-foot distance cannot be met. According to Toriann, everyone wears a mask properly throughout the duration of her in-person classes on campus. Professor Don Vincent said that the classrooms are sanitized well and students consistently wear their masks properly throughout the duration of his lectures.

Some colleges decided to pull the plug months ago on both in-person classes and re-opening dorm halls for the fall 2020 semester. However, Hilbert made the decision to have students live in dorms and continue with in person instruction.

Toriann Wipperman said she understands why it is difficult for schools to decide whether to continue with in person classes, but that she feels they should have went completely remote when asked if she thought Hilbert administrators made the right decision.

“Thats controversial,” Toriann Wipperman said. “I’m gonna say no. It makes sense that Hilbert’s back. I just don’t think any of these schools should be. I think we should have just been in lockdown completely and just got rid of it completely, instead of trying to normalize it while the pandemic is still happening.”

Senior Haley Wipperman is currently completing all classes remotely from home, as she broke her foot in July. She feels a bit different about the topic.

“We are all college students and this is our school,” Haley Wipperman said. “It is up to us to follow the rules and keep everyone healthy. If we weren’t on campus, it would be another semester of our college experience taken away from us.”