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Coronavirus pandemic calls for an open campus

What exactly constitutes enough of an emergency to close the campus down? 

The first death in L.A. County happened only five miles away from our campus, Trump declared a national emergency, there are now 53 confirmed cases of coronavirus in L.A. County as of March 15, and the city of Pomona is closing city facilities to the public.

Why is so much energy focused on keeping the campus open instead of finding alternatives to ensure that students and staff will be safe during this pandemic?

(Eduardo Rangel | The Poly Post)

Since last Wednesday, students and professors have been trying to figure out how online classes will be conducted. In order to keep the classes running, professors have to conduct lectures using virtual substitutions.

Students have the option of going to class if they need to, mostly if they don’t have access to a computer or internet at home. Others have to show up for their labs, activity, studio, performing arts or physical education classes.

I personally need the campus to stay open because I work at the Bronco Recreational and Intramural Complex as a lifeguard. That job pays for my rent and my bills. The same goes for all of my roommates and their campus jobs. If the campus is closed and we can’t work, we can’t pay our bills and then we won’t have a place to live.

If the campus closes down, that also means there will be no access to basic needs that so many students benefit from. No groceries from the Poly Pantry, no emergency grants, no emergency housing, no meal assistance, no housing, no access to the internet, no computers and no health services. 

At this time when we need it the most, I understand that shutting the campus down is the last thing we’d want. But with the escalating issue, I feel that the energy should shift toward helping students and staff in this time of need. 

Many may have already lost jobs due to closures of businesses outside of campus. That alone leaves people at risk of facing food insecurity, homelessness and more. 

It seems like keeping the campus open for now is the best way to go, but we’re putting these people at the highest risk of exposure. Students and staff who rely heavily on campus and those who contribute the most to keep it running efficiently are the ones still there because they’ll lack basic human needs if they decide to stay safe as others are able to.

There are two sides to this:

1. Students and staff continue to potentially be exposed to the virus.

2. If the campus shuts down, people will lose jobs, food, shelter and access to the basic needs resources that the campus provides.

I think that we can do better as a campus community to benefit everyone by keeping only the necessary resources open and implementing precautionary measures like masks, social distancing and consistent sanitation. 

If there’s less exposure within the campus, the chances of coronavirus spreading, for now, become slimmer. 

For now, the resources provided by our basic needs program can be enough to keep our students and staff safe and secure during these troubling times. 

I encourage everyone to check out the basic needs program at Cal Poly Pomona, even if it’s just getting familiar with it. It can really help in times of crisis such as this one. 

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