Student reactions to Code Orange COVID shift 

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Under the policy enforced during code red, students were required to wear masks outdoors while near others. This is one the notable changes since moving to code orange, as masks are no longer required outdoors. Photo by Kate Trifo from Pexels.

On Friday, Feb. 11, the University of Connecticut moved from its code red designation to its code orange designation in regard to COVID-19 guidelines for students. Code orange allows for dining halls to serve at maximum capacity and lifts the requirement for face masks outdoors.  

The decision came after spending almost four weeks of the semester in code red, of which two were held online. Most students are pleased with the change, as cases of COVID-19 across all UConn campuses remains low. Based on a Google Forms survey with 31 responses distributed across several popular UConn Facebook pages and the UConn subreddit, over 80% of students answered that they felt UConn was absolutely ready to exit code red guidelines. When asked about how well they followed code red policy, 45% answered absolutely, another 30% stated most of the time and the remaining 25% answered either “sometimes” or “rarely.”  

“We’ve had really low case numbers since the semester began and people are vaccinated. I’m fully on board with this,” wrote one anonymous response.  

Several other responses answered similarly: They cited difficulties with online or hybrid learning, longer time spent at dining halls due to code red’s half capacity guideline and frustration with wearing masks outside. 

Other students, while still willing to move forward, expressed some concerns with the change. 

“As much as I hate masks, I think going from code red to orange is a huge risk. If people weren’t taking COVID-19 serious before, now they definitely won’t take precautions. We could possibly go back to code red at any moment if people become careless,” said a responder. 

Talking with Luke Villani, a tenth-semester history and anthropology major in an in-person interview, provided further insight into issues with the color coded rules. 

“I try my best with following COVID guidelines, but they aren’t often the most straightforward. Just recently, due to a miscommunication over the guidelines, I found out I couldn’t have a guest in my room, even though the posters in residence halls said only non-campus guests were not allowed … sometimes different websites have different or outdated information.” 

Luke Villani, tenth-semester history and anthropology major.

Villani explained that Tolland county, where Storrs is located, has consistently had one of the lowest rates of COVID-19 in the state and the measures of code orange are redundant with already low COVID-19 numbers. 

“It’s redundant that we need to mask up in our dorm common areas where there’s only people from our building when we don’t need to at the dining hall or at a bar,” Villani continued. 

Villani, also a member of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), added it is not up to USG or the board of trustees whether COVID-19 guidelines are added, but the Dean of Students. 

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