Uniting for Safety: Masks and Other New Health Measures are a Must

Emily Barrett, Hilary Bentman, and Jessica Reyes, assistant directors of communications
Graduate physical therapy students wear masks and practice social distancing during lab.
Graduate physical therapy students were among a limited number of programs to pilot the university's new health and safety guidelines this summer.

When Brittany McCullough arrived back on campus to resume her graduate physical therapy program in-person, she was equally thrilled and curious as to how life on campus would continue in a COVID-era. She and her classmates became quickly acclimated to new health and safety precautions put in place by the university.

Widener is doing a really good job of making sure that everyone is following the rules. Everyone’s wearing a mask, everyone’s social distancing, and there are plenty of hand sanitizer dispensers around campus for hand washing. —Brittany McCullough '22

McCullough was among a limited group of students and faculty who resumed in-person learning and research on campus this summer. Their time on campus piloted the university’s new guidelines.

Noah Smeriglio, a student in the Summer Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) program, felt a sense of relief seeing others on campus wearing masks to protect themselves and others.

The mask policy made me feel 100 times more comfortable being back on campus because it showed me that my fellow researchers and advisors were being diligent and careful. — Noah Smeriglio '22

The junior chemistry and chemical engineering dual major admits that he was concerned that wearing a mask would be cumbersome. Now, he doesn’t even notice the mask.

Assistant Professor Andrea Martin observes student Noah Smeriglio in the lab.
Noah Smeriglio works alongside Assistant Professor Andrea Martin in the lab.

“After a few days it became something I was very used to doing,” he said. “It slowly became less and less noticeable even being someone who has asthma.”

This fall, Widener will offer classes remotely, except for a small number of courses that are extremely difficult to teach through distance learning. A limited number of students will live on campus. Members of the Pride who return to campus must follow new guidelines including wearing a mask, social distancing, and using the Campus Clear app daily to track and monitor symptoms and possible exposure to the virus. 

Undergraduate Admissions has begun bringing back prospective students and their families for in-person campus tours. Tours are led by current Widener students, who are required to wear masks or face shields and maintain social distancing on their routes.

Tour guide Jackie Guht ’21 prefers the face shield so people can read her lips if needed, and, as she says, “it’s nice to see the entire face of someone.”

Guht says campus tours amidst COVID has been an adjustment. For safety reasons, tours are limited to one prospective student and their maximum of two guests, and everyone must wear a mask. The number of buildings the tours can enter has also been limited.

But the psychology major says the protocols and process have gone smoothly, even in the summer heat.

I love giving tours. It gets hot, but when you’re passionate about Widener you don’t think about it. And the families have been awesome. —Jackie Guht '21

In preparation for the fall semester, Smeriglio and others already on campus encourage the limited number of people who will return to take personal responsibility and follow precautions to protect the entire campus community.

“I would hate to be the person who didn’t wear a mask and spread COVID-19 to a professor,” he said. “Some of the professors have a higher risk of being seriously affected by Coronavirus so it would be insensitive to their well-being to not do something as simple as wearing a mask.” 

Guht agreed, and added that while the guidelines may take some adjustment, they make a limited return to campus possible. 

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