Because of COVID-19 multiple health procedures have been put in place to prevent the spread of this virus. The disabled water fountains and mask wearing are long-standing policies, while recently the lunchrooms have been closed. Following these policies many people have questions, like those surrounding the water fountain policy.
Since last year the water fountains have been turned off, so that only the water bottle portion can be used. While a majority believe it is a COVID-19 procedure, some additionally question this policy. “While I do understand that this was partially due to COVID concerns, I do find it interesting that the school has expanded the number of places it sells bottled water to include Corboy Hall since shutting off the water fountains,” states one student.
On the other hand, Dean Voss explained, “We moved into the new building last year — summer of ‘20. That was right when COVID was in its prime and we decided that [the decision], trying to take all the precautions to limit the amount of touching with water fountains.”
“That is why we disabled the actual water fountain part and just kept the water bottle portion of the system in place,” Dean Voss stated.
Although the water fountain part has been cut off, the water bottle portion of the system has remained in use. Still, some find this policy inconvenient. One Junior says, “The bottle-filling part of the water fountains have been turned on all of this year and last year, but that isn’t always helpful because many people do not bring water bottles to school. — they do not have any means of accessible containment of the water such as paper cups…” Though, there are still a fair number of students who bring their water bottles to school. So, this isn’t an issue for all students.
DePaul Prep has adopted these water fountain measures in order to limit touching by using individual water fountains. Their model is made after other business practices who have also disabled their water fountains.
Dean Voss explained he expects that water fountains will be functional once guidelines are relaxed. “As a state if we’re going to start seeing some of the guidelines changing and being a little more pulled back and laxed and if that’s the case hopefully we can get back to some normalcy and get back to where we were before COVID hit,” said Dean Voss.
At the start of the first semester, Chicago experienced a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases because of the Omicron variant. As a result, students were required to eat lunch in classrooms to avoid large gatherings in Corboy Hall and the Dining Hall. Eating in classrooms with seating charts also allowed for easy contact tracing. However, since the beginning of Monday January 31st DePaul Prep students have been allowed to eat in the regular lunchrooms because COVID-19 cases have significantly decreased.
“Luckily we are starting to see the city numbers go back down and plateau again,” Dean Voss said.
It’s too early to say, but Voss feels hopeful the masking-indoors policy will not become an indefinite practice.
“I don’t think anyone enjoys wearing the mask. But again we are using the city guidelines — following their lead along with medical recommendations. Again keeping our fingers crossed that we can eventually take these off and get back to some normalcy,” Dean Voss said.