COVID Comparisons

Taking a look at local universities’ responses to COVID


Samuel Damon

Students observe COVID protocol by wearing masks indoors.

In the COVID update from Tess Coody-Anders, Vice President for Strategic Communications and Marketing, for the week of Feb. 7, she summarized the positive developments on the COVID front on Trinity’s campus.

“We continue to see improvements in the transmission of COVID in our campus community and San Antonio generally,” Coody-Anders wrote in her weekly email. “Currently, 6 students are in isolation on campus, and the remaining 6 individuals are in isolation off campus.”

Based on these developments, there is reason to believe that TU protocols will be changing in the near future.

“We appear to be approaching a point at which we can revisit our ProtecTU protocols, most significantly our masking requirements,” Coody-Anders wrote. “While a new variant could always upend our plans, it’s important that we recognize the ways our high vaccination rates protect our campus from severe illness.”

Similarly, other universities across San Antonio are finding their own ways of managing COVID so that they can continue learning while living up to community health standards. The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW)’s Director of Health, Ronda Gottlieb, wrote by email about UIW’s COVID policies and hopes for the future.

Gottlieb outlined the UIW mask mandate policy that is pertinent to all campus buildings and the weekly COVID testing requirement for unvaccinated student residents and employees, similar to Trinity’s regulations. St. Mary’s, another local university, also enforces wearing face masks for all individuals when indoors on campus, according to their website. Additionally, Gottlieb cited the CDC and San Antonio Metropolitan Health District as major resources in guiding UIW policy as well as local institutions.

“We are fortunate to have many local universities and colleges within San Antonio that have been extremely supportive and collaborative when discussing processes and lessons learned,” Gottlieb wrote.

Trinity, UIW and St. Mary’s differed on their responses to the Omicron variant spike in January. At Trinity, winter break was extended by two weeks, and classes were delayed until Jan. 31.

By comparison, “UIW decided to temporarily move most academic classes to a virtual format until Jan. 24. During the first weeks of January 2022, San Antonio had limited COVID-19 testing supplies and PCR test results were taking up to five days to get results,” Gottlieb wrote.

Finally, St. Mary’s President Tom Mengler outlined in a letter to the community on the university website the decision to postpone classes until Jan. 24.

Although responses differed, the three universities made clear their goal to protect not only their own campus community but also the San Antonio community.

“It was very important for UIW to do our part in keeping our community safe and not add to the spread,” Gottlieb wrote, echoing the messages of Mengler and Coody-Anders.

Information is not public about St. Mary’s future policies, but Gottlieb, like Coody-Anders, is optimistic about the future on campus.

“UIW is ready to pivot as needed to keep our campus safe, but we are hopeful the new variants will decrease the severity of the disease as time goes by,” Gottlieb wrote.