By: L. Kincaid Holmes

Starting Monday, September 14, Principia College moved into the Yellow Phase, the third level of precautions, which have been steadily decreasing since students arrived on campus in the end of August. “The real test is just starting,” said Dean of Students Maya Dietz, emphasizing the need for students to take precautions particularly seriously in light of the loosened regulations.

Under the Yellow Phase, students may leave campus, although are asked to do so thoughtfully and only if necessary, according to a September 13 Watercooler announcement. Students are no longer required to wear masks in their own dorms, unless students from other dorms – still only allowed in common areas – are present.

To get the community on the same page and provide clarity in any grey areas, Student Government hosted a town hall meeting over Zoom on September 14 with Dietz, Athletic Director Ann Pierson, and Home Life Manager Mark Hagenlocher.

Deciding what falls under an essential trip off campus falls to students. Students are encouraged to examine their reasons for leaving campus, and to consider whether they are caring for the Principia community. “I think you can do a lot of things as long as you do them safely,” said Dietz.

Getting down into the nitty, gritty rules of what students can and cannot do wasn’t the point of the forum. Rather, Dietz, Pierson, and Hagenlocher wanted students to understand the situation and bear a sense of responsibility for each other. “It would take longer to read the document than it would to go off campus and come back,” joked Hagenlocher.

If in a car with students from another dorm, be sure to wear a mask, they reminded those listening. Upon returning to campus, security will request to see students’ green checks from their daily screening.

The Yellow Phase also means that gym facilities are reopening. Starting September 15, Hay Field House and Crafton Center, including the pool, will be open for use at certain hours during the week.

While Crafton weight rooms will be open, they are for physical education classes, varsity athletics, and limited reservation only slots. The indoor track will not be open.

The basketball court in Hay will only be open to the varsity teams, while the lower Hay gym facilities will be open and accessible by the back door for all who are wearing masks.

In all athletic facilities, make sure to sanitize the machines you use, said Pierson, including the weights, mats, and benches.

Several students raised questions regarding visitors on campus, visiting other students’ rooms, and being picked up by family.

As to whether or not students can be in each other’s rooms – “we are taking it one step at a time,” said Dietz.  

Minimizing and controlling the exposure on campus is of utmost importance. Waiting to see how the campus’ exposure does or does not rise with student’s freedom to leave campus allows space for the conversation on visiting students’ rooms in other houses.

Policies around visitors from off campus are not set in stone yet, either, said Dietz. Those rules depend on surrounding counties and whether their regulations tighten or relax.

Featured photo: Students walk together after Convocation on September 11, 2020. Starting September 14, students are no longer required to wear masks with members of their own dorm. Photo by Amanda Schwabe.