Students say university's COVID elevator policy is making them late to class

Point Park University is limiting the number of people allowed on an elevator at the same time to battle the current pandemic.

Campus Reform spoke with PPU students to get their reactions to the new policy.

After being called out by students for not updating its COVID-19 policies, Point Park University (PPU) announced a number of new rules and regulations for the Spring 2022 semester, including limitations on elevator usage.

The updated Operations Manual for Returning to Campus specified that, “Elevator capacity will be limited to five people at a time, in order to maintain social distance, adding that “Signs and markers are being placed as a reminder.”

The handbook also noted that, “during the month of January, PPU will limit the number of students in meetings and gatherings across campus,” though no specific information on this policy was offered. 

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PPU sophomore Tyler Hertwig told Campus Reform he struggles to make any sense of the policy.

“I don’t really think that change made any bit of a difference,” Hertwig told Campus Reform

“It was 8 and now it’s 5, neither of which even make any sense,” said Hertwig, adding that he would like to hear “how they came up with those numbers in the first place.”

PPU Junior Chip Frederickson says that while the new policy allows for more social distancing, students are showing up late for class due to long elevator lines.

“From what I have seen so far, the professors have been pretty understanding with the students being slightly late to class because of the elevators,” Frederickson told Campus Reform. “Many [professors] have been stuck in those lines, too.”

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Another PPU student, Tyler Hillard, pointed out that the policy doesn’t even fit the commonly accepted definition of “social distancing.”

Hillard told Campus Reform that “having 5 people in the elevators is not social distancing.”

“There is not much that you can do unless you say 2 people at a time and even that isn’t the recommended amount of room [for social distancing].”

Overall, Hillard says he believes the policy “is in place just for looks,” emphasizing that “there is no real social distancing you can do in the elevators.”

Hillard expressed concern that the policy will end up causing backups, making students late for class and other activities.

PPU alumni Mathew Johnson shared disapproval of the policy, noting  that “the risk of being in an elevator with an infected person is no greater than the risk of being near someone who has the virus in another setting.”

“The time people spend in elevators is usually short and takes about a minute,” Johnson told Campus Reform. “According to the CDC, exposure typically occurs when someone is within 6 feet of another person with COVID-19 for 15 minutes.”

Johnson added that “space between people on a PPU elevator typically ranges from 3-4 feet distance which creates a flaw in coordination with CDC and PPU policy with respect to COVID-19.”

“The overall policy strips freedom of choice from students, faculty, and staff to decide for themselves whether or not the elevator is safe for them to ride,” Johnson told Campus Reform.

“It is not the university’s responsibility to maintain my health,” Johnson added. “Freedom of choice must be restored back to the people of Point Park University so they can decide for themselves which elevator to step into and at what cost.”

Campus Reform reached out to Point Park University for comment; this article will be updated accordingly. 

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