Updated transportation policies include COVID-19 precautions

By Piper Sartison 

Elm Staff Writer 

As the warmer weather approaches, students will be eager to go out and explore Chestertown and Kent County. Washington College is offering several transportation services for students while following health safety protocols, including the suggestion that students not partake in non-essential travel during the spring semester to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus.  

Travel for medical appointments, employment, religious services, and to purchase essential personal care items are all considered essential, according to the WC Response Team’s Feb. 12 email.

Additionally, if a student leaves Kent County, they must complete a 14-day quarantine upon their return to campus.

While the shuttle services to and from Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Philadelphia airports, Wilmington train station and the New Carrollton train station are operational for students during move-in and move-out, according to transportation manager Lisa Jones, some transportation services on campus will not continue.   

The weekend shuttle and Safe Ride, which took students as far as Annapolis or as close as Chestertown in previous semesters, will not be available this semester. 

However, WC’s transportation fleet will be available in an adjusted format. 

Student organizations and clubs could normally vehicles from WC’s fleet for off-campus activities; however, Transportation Services Manager Lisa Jones said that College-owned motor vehicles will not be available to those parties during the spring semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If [a student] finds a need for a vehicle, it is restricted to work essential to college operations, so academic research, athletics, admission recruitment or travel deemed essential and approved by a member of the Washington College senior staff,” Jones said.

To reserve a motor vehicle this semester, a student must fill out an online survey that is located on the WC transportation website. 

After entering their contact information, students must agree that the vehicle will not travel outside a 200-mile radius from campus. They must also agree that if any damages happen to the vehicle, they will take full responsibility in damage penalties. 

Further restrictions were put on how students travel in the College’s vehicles.

According to the Feb. 3 email from Transportation, all passengers of College vehicles must present a green Emocha badge and attest to having no COVID-19 symptoms to the driver before entering the vehicle, wear their masks at all times, and agree to have the vehicle’s windows fully rolled down throughout the trip. 

Students may fill campus vehicles to maximum capacity only if the aforementioned qualifications are fulfilled and the trip is only to last 15 minutes or less, according to a Feb. 3 email.

Trips that last longer than 15 minutes must follow the same restrictions as 15-minute-long trips, but the students must adhere to certain seating layouts which are specific to each type of vehicle that is available, the Feb. 3 email said.

According to Jones, there is also a strict disinfecting policy for the vehicles. 

Drivers are expected to disinfect the vehicle before departure and upon arrival on campus, according to the Feb. 3 email. 

Students will be provided with a checklist of surfaces to clean and must fill out a checklist of items they are required to disinfect once they are done using the vehicle.

Drivers are expected to also place their used cleaning supplies and trash into a trash bag, remove it from the vehicle, and place it in its appropriate disposal container, according to the Feb. 3 email.

Failure to disinfect the vehicle or remove trash from it will result in a $50 fine or termination of driving privileges for offending students. 

Although there are no shuttles this semester, WC encourages students to walk with friends, explore the town and enjoy the services that are offered in a walking distance from campus.  

Featured Photo caption: Washington College announced new regulations pertaining to student usage of their transportation fleet. Including disinfectant requirements, seating charts, and mask protocols, these rules were put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19 when using school vehicles. Elm File Photo.

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