As we return to campus, it’s imperative to follow COVID-19 protocols and keep others in mind
It’s certainly exciting to be back on campus now that the academic year has started. But with that excitement comes a fair amount of pandemic-related nervousness — something that can’t be quantified because of how vastly it differs from person to person.
One person in a lecture hall could be anxious about the lack of distance from other students; another could be worried about a student’s propensity to wear their mask just below their nose. Someone else could be annoyed at having to wear a mask for a two-hour lecture, and anyone could simultaneously have all of these feelings and more.
It would be nice to say that there is decreased uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 now, but that wouldn’t be true. While it is a fact that the best way to stay safe and protect those around you is being fully vaccinated, that doesn’t preclude you from a breakthrough case. It is important to be mindful that even if you are feeling safe, others around you may feel less comfortable.
Respect is the bare minimum, and working to make sure we all feel as safe as possible in a familiar, but overwhelmingly different, environment is helpful for everyone. For example, if the person sitting next to you looks visibly uncomfortable with you lowering your mask to unlock your phone, maybe just type in your password. A similar courtesy goes for all mask-removing instances.
If your instructors set rules stricter than university policy for their classes, it’s still important to adhere to them. If you have questions about certain policies, ask them respectfully. Nobody wants to contract COVID-19, and what you may think is unnecessary could make your instructor feel safer. Perhaps they are worried about going home to unvaccinated children or immunocompromised family members.
We don’t know what everyone’s situation is, so it’s important to handle confrontation with grace. Even if people around you don’t feel comfortable sharing why they’d prefer a certain safety measure, their concerns are valid and you should respect them.
Both instructors and students have a ways to go in terms of getting reacquainted with an in-person setup, and with the rigor of attending school in the middle of a pandemic, it is not going to be an easy adjustment. To help mitigate the stress of not being able to go to class for any reason, we encourage professors located in halls with lecture recording facilities to record all lectures. Over a year of virtual school has allowed for increased accessibility to education, and a return to campus should not undo that.
We need to be conscious of how our individual actions impact everyone around us and act accordingly. Be kind to the people around you, follow the policies designed to keep our community healthy and make decisions to keep yourself and others safe.
Written by: The Editorial Board