I began Running Start fall quarter ready to experience campus life, to feel like an adult and to feel like I’m going somewhere with my academic career. These plans never became a reality as the impacts of COVID-19 changed nearly every aspect of my life.
After attending two quarters of college online, like many students, I became frustrated that the campus hasn’t reopened. However, considering the effects that reopening campus may have on the college and local community, returning to in-person learning isn’t a safe option.
Reopening the campus could cause fatal outbreaks at any of the dozen nursing homes and retirement facilities in Puyallup. As someone who has many relatives older than 65, it concerns me that reopening the campus may increase their risk of contracting COVID-19.
Elderly populations are one of the many groups at an increased risk for hospitalization and death if they contract COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals 65 and older account for 80% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S.
La Crosse, Wisconsin, nursing homes have been greatly impacted by COVID-19 due to college campuses contributing to the spread. Last September, 19 La Crosse nursing home residents died of the same Sars-cov-2 virus going around local college campuses.
Open college campuses have also added to the transmission of COVID-19 throughout local communities. According to the CDC, counties with colleges that had in-person learning experienced a 56% increase in daily COVID-19 cases, while counties with colleges that had remote learning saw a decrease in daily cases by 17.9%.
In January, a student at the University of Washington Seattle tested positive for the B117 virus strain, more commonly known as the UK strain of COVID-19. As this variant spreads quicker than older variants, the CDC recommends taking more extensive safety precautions. However, young adults may not be up to this task.
According to the CDC, COVID-19 safety precautions including mask-wearing, social distancing and hand hygiene practices were lowest among individuals from ages 18 to 29, the common demographic of college students.
Another reason campus shouldn’t reopen is that students won’t take enough precautions to keep other students and staff safe. Not only do I feel unsafe about going back to campus because I might spread COVID-19 to my grandparents, but I worry that other students and staff may spread it to their high-risk relatives.
Additionally, as students have done online learning successfully for the past year, we are fully capable of continuing remote learning for a little while longer.
Some young adults may choose not to follow COVID-19 measures since they aren’t high risk. However, it’s still important for low-risk individuals to wear masks since they’re capable of spreading the virus to high-risk individuals and those unable to wear masks, like infants and toddlers.
Although we won’t be returning to campus spring quarter, we all need to consistently wear our masks, keep our distance from others and wash our hands at home so the campus can be safely reopened sooner.
Article by @FenskeJayden on Twitter.
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