Campus compliance with COVID-19 protocols remains unsatisfactory for some

Photo of green clearance badge on the etang portal
Vanessa Lim/Senior Staff
Despite COVID-19 safety implementations by campus, some students and faculty are unsatisfied with the compliance of others in adhering to these policies and practices.

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While campus protocols surrounding the spread of COVID-19 remain in place, students and staff noting compliance with these guidelines has not been universal.

Throughout the semester, policies including mask mandates, weekly testing for unvaccinated community members, campus access badges and contact tracing have been implemented.

However, not all of these have been enforced — in mid-October, the compliance rate for unvaccinated community members getting tested weekly was only 60%.

“Reminders of these public health measures are happening throughout campus communications and signage,” said Tami Cate, University Health Services, or UHS, spokesperson in an email.

In terms of campus efforts to raise compliance, Cate cited the campus access badge, reminders sent out to students not in compliance with the testing mandates and outreach efforts being organized by Student Conduct.

The campus access badge is a central part of enforcing the testing mandates, as it only turns green when students are in compliance and is required for entry at dining halls, Recreational Sports Facility, or RSF, and other campus facilities.

UHS also has a team of contact tracers who work with students who have tested positive to identify people they may have come into contact with. These close contacts are then notified and advised to get tested, according to Cate.

While weekly campuswide “Response and Recovery” emails are aimed at ensuring students and staff are aware of the latest COVID-19 updates concerning UC Berkeley, miscommunication has still occurred in some aspects.

One issue many students have faced is the difference between surveillance and exposure or symptomatic testing at the UHS and RSF testing sites on campus.

“I know many students who got symptomatic testing and were shocked to see that they got a $150 charge in their CalCentral because they didn’t have SHIP,” said ASUC senator Adrianna Ngo in an email. “They can get reimbursed if they send the receipt to their insurance company, but many students don’t know how to do this and assume that the symptomatic testing would come with no charge, just like the surveillance testing.”

Ngo explained while the UHS website’s FAQ does detail this reimbursement process, this “miscommunication” still deters students from getting symptomatic testing.

Other campus policies such as mask mandates and access badges also suffer from a lack of enforcement, according to Ngo.

“I personally have some discussion sections that require the access badge and emphasize that if students are feeling unwell, they definitely should not be coming to class,” Ngo said in an email. “Not only do most teaching staff lack the time to check access badges, but some simply decline to offer an alternative way to learn for symptomatic students, often even making attendance mandatory…this puts students in a tough situation because they are forced to choose between potentially putting themselves and others at risk, and their grades.”

Contact Riya Chopra at [email protected].