‘Kind of unsettling’: Students concerned STU cleanliness during COVID-19

    Students are concerned about cleanliness at STU study spaces during COVID-19. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

    With the start of a new online school year, St. Thomas University implemented a COVID-19 plan for study spaces. Michala Keeler, a STU study hall monitor, said there aren’t many people social-distancing or wearing masks in James Dunn Hall.

    “No one’s really been enforcing the mask rules,” she said.

    Jeffrey Carleton, associate vice-president communications at STU, said a new protocol has been put in place with recommendations from public health after Moncton and Campbellton went back to the orange phase of the COVID-19 recovery plan.

    This includes the new rule put in place on Oct. 13 of wearing a mask at all times, even when seated in public places on campus.

    Faculty are not required to wear masks if the six feet distance can be maintained in classrooms.

    Carleton said new signage is up around the school enforcing the mask rule and reminding students and faculty to avoid crowded spaces, wash their hands, maintain physical distancing and minimize the potential spread of COVID-19.

    He said there is a heightened degree of responsibility for cleaning staff with the new measures of cleaning given by public health, but he said that isn’t the only option for ensuring your workspace is clean.

    “If students are concerned, they have the opportunity to do the cleaning themselves and I also think that if students have concerns, they should report them to us,” Carleton said.

    The University of New Brunswick makes study spaces at the Student Union Building available by booking. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

    Down the hill at the University of New Brunswick Students’ Union Building, study spaces are available by booking only. Students must give their names and phone numbers when booking and student IDs are checked once the student is seated.

    At each table, there’s a note ensuring the study space has been sanitized prior to use. It also lists instructions for when masks are required, it says that chairs can’t be repositioned and it mentions what washrooms are available for use.

    The Aquinian contacted the University of New Brunswick, but received no comment in time for publication.

    As a study hall monitor, Keeler is one of the people in charge of enforcing the mask rule and making sure students sanitize their space, but there’s no one to do that in JDH. She said STU could do better when it comes to enforcing the rules in all campus spaces.

    “Anytime I go to use the computer lab, I walk in there and you will have groups of six to seven people at the same table and none of them wearing a mask,” she said.

    Adam McDougall, a second-year STU student, said the mask rule doesn’t bother him since it’s for the health and safety of others.

    Still, he said he hasn’t seen any of the tables in JDH being cleaned in between uses this year.

    “It’s definitely something which is kind of unsettling,” McDougall said in an email. “There’s no way to actually ensure your table has been cleaned.”

    Carleton said with the change in provincial rules regarding masks, which happened on Oct. 8, STU’s rules on masks are going to be better enforced.

    He said if staff members see students, faculty or members of the public not wearing masks on campus, STU is going to be more active in informing the campus community what their responsibilities are.

    Carleton said STU will be increasing communication to students on the use of masks.

    “We’re going to start to be a little more vigilant and a little more active.”