Fix the COVID-19 reopening plan for SUNY Maritime students

Fix the COVID-19 reopening plan for SUNY Maritime students

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Tor Stumo started this petition to SUNY Maritime Administration

PLEASE read the full joint letter HERE.

COVID-19 risk for students:

Many think of COVID-19 as a minor health risk for students. It is true that the death rate for the college age-group is only 0.2% and that, for most of us, getting sick results in a serious fever at most. However, permanent damage is scarily common for even those who don’t get symptoms. Currently, most who recover from COVID will experience internal organ damage, which may result in lifelong internal scarring.

COVID-19, even if asymptomatic (i.e. you don’t ever feel sick), frequently causes “extensive scarring of the lung”, as well as scarring of “the gastrointestinal tract, the cardiovascular system, skin, kidneys, and nervous system”. Cognitive problems remain after the disease as well: a “‘brain fog’—problems with memory and concentration” and “persistent fatigue”.[1]

In one study, almost 70% “of people who don’t feel ill but test positive for COVID-19 have some changes in their lungs”, where in another, half of patients had “ground glass opacities”: inflamed areas of the lung that feel like the grating of ground-up glass. [2], [3]

In another study on the “long term consequences of COVID-19 on the heart”, almost 80% of recovered COVID patients, 18% of whom didn’t feel sick, had signs of heart damage. Some of the asymptomatic patients “had some of the highest levels [of damage] seen in the study. Even the healthiest student athletes are experiencing serious heart issues: “more than a dozen athletes at Power Five conference schools have been identified as having myocardial injury following coronavirus infection”. [2], [4], [5]

Unfortunately, the bottom line is that younger people are not safe. The long-term heart, lung or brain issues from this disease are looking to be increasingly common and increasingly grim. This scarring and inflammation can damage our bodies permanently. We shouldn’t be made to choose between our degrees and our long-term health. 

[1] Tuller, David. “Post-Covid Syndrome: What It Is, Causes, Similarities to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS).” Berkeley Wellness, Remedy Health Media, LLC, 4 Aug. 2020, www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-community/contagious-disease/article/and-now-post-covid-syndrome

[2] Goodman, Brenda. “Asymptomatic COVID: Silent, but Maybe Not Harmless.” WebMD, WebMD, 11 Aug. 2020, www.webmd.com/lung/news/20200811/asymptomatic-covid-silent-but-maybe-not-harmless

[3] Inui, Shohei, et al. “Chest CT Findings in Cases from the Cruise Ship ‘Diamond Princess’ with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).” Radiology: Cardiothoracic Imaging, vol. 2, no. 2, 2020, doi:10.1148/ryct.2020200110.

[4] Puntmann, Valentina O., et al. “Outcomes of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Patients Recently Recovered From Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).” JAMA Cardiology, 2020, doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.3557.

[5] Barber, Carolyn. “COVID-19 Can Wreck Your Heart, Even If You Haven't Had Any Symptoms.” Scientific American, Scientific American, 31 Aug. 2020, www.scientificamerican.com/article/covid-19-can-wreck-your-heart-even-if-you-havent-had-any-symptoms/

To the SUNY Maritime Administration:

The SUNY Maritime campus reopening plan, as of September 1st, is unsafe for students and their families. We recognize the very difficult job and massive weight of responsibility that the administration has in protecting the welfare and lives of students and their families, but there is more that can and should be done.

Here are the demands of Maritime's students and families to make Maritime safer:

  • All regimental activities, such as formation and inspection should be held on Zoom.
    • This way, students can take off their masks safely every morning to show grooming standards (facial hair) and have no risk of virus transmission.

             OR

  • Students should remain 6 feet from the hallway, inside their rooms with the doors open and their masks on, allowing for the safe taking of accountability and inspection. For Tuesday/Thursday regimental activities, social distancing of 6ft, while wearing a mask should take absolute precedence.

  • Move all "blended" classes, and non-essentially in-person classes, fully online.
    • Many classes have been made only partially online (with some days in-person and others online). This is a disservice to students who could be taking the semester fully online. It forces students to choose between safety and degree completion. Faculty have already set up course plans for a move online, so this should not be difficult.
    • Even students who have in-person laboratory classes, that require them to remain on campus, should have the option of taking these “not in-person-essential classes” or “blended” classes online, to reduce risk of transmission.
  • Liberty forms should be required for students who want to return home on weekends.
    • We already have a system set up for this and it would take minimal effort to process weekend liberty the same way as we process liberty during the week and with the same strict criteria regarding who may go home. 
  • Students who go home on weekends should be tested when they return.
    • Testing should be comprehensive for ALL students who leave campus.
    • If liberty forms are adopted for weekend leave, this testing will be on a much smaller scale/less expensive due to students only leaving for medical reasons or family emergencies.
    • Liberty forms would also make it far easier for the administration to track who is leaving campus and needs testing.

If these conditions are not met, far more students will get sick, period. The priority should be on health and safety, rather than erring on the side of normalcy in social, academic and regimental structures. This letter is in the spirit of heading off problems that neither students, faculty, nor administration should be burdened by. We all want a safe community and we must work together to attain it.

We, the undersigned, are sending this letter in the hope that our university's administration will address these issues with the same level of gravity as the seriousness with which we write, in the hope that they keep the two-way channels of communication open with students and families.

It would be optimal to have the administration's actionable response and proposed implementation changes before classes open.

 

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