Colleges Re-Opening During COVID- And Is It Safe?
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Colleges Re-Opening During COVID- And Is It Safe?

Not everyone is on the same page, but at least they get to have their voices heard.

Colleges Re-Opening During COVID- And Is It Safe?

Now that every age group in the United States has had the opportunity to get the covid-19 vaccine (except those younger than twelve), Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made the decision to not mandate masks or the vaccine in Florida schools. Florida Gulf Coast University, FGCU, is allowing all of their students and faculty back on campus for the fall semester of 2021 without masks or social distancing being mandatory.

With it being over a month since the school year started, I was curious to know where my fellow FGCU students stand on this particular situation. Whether they're vaccinated, why they choose not to wear a mask or not, and their concerns or anything they'd like to get off their chests to let their voices be heard about this situation.

So, to have a better understanding of all this, I posted a survey that I made on my Instagram, Snapchat, and Discord, and twenty-two people kindly took time out of their day to fill it out. Although twenty-two is not an ideal number to represent all of FGCU, those twenty-two people are quite diversed in their majors, year that they are in school, and answers to my survey.

At the very end, are ten responses I got who felt the needed to speak their minds on this topic, and the one that stood out to me the most was the seventh response who said, "As someone who has autoimmune disorders, I'm worried as to what my body may react with if I got [the] Pfizer [vaccine], but looking at me, you'd think I'm a normal college freshman who's lazy. Not everyone is under the same circumstances, so don't treat everyone like they are."

1. What year are you, and what is your major?

Freshman (2 responses)

"Elementary Ed"
"Forensic Science"

Sophomore (5 responses)

"Health Administration"
"Business Management"
"Criminal Justice"

Junior (3 responses)

"Forensic Science"

Senior (12 responses)

"Construction Management"
"Health Science"
"Health Science"
"Legal Studies"
"Computer Information Systems"
"Forensic Studies & History"
"Political Science"
"Software Engineering"
"Computer Information Systems"

Senior + (0 responses)

2. Are you vaccinated? And why or why not?

Yes, I have both doses: 14 responses

"Weak immune system"
"If it can lessen symptoms [that's] cool"
"I am vaccinated because I believe in common decency and the well-being of others"
"If my elders get covid it won't be because of me"
"I figured it was right"
"Because it's what's best for my community, science > politics"
"I believe it is safe and somewhat effective"
"Honestly so administrators, public officials, and business owners don't throw a fit. If I didn't feel social pressure to get it I probably wouldn't have"
"As a future health professional, the only way to keep people around you safe is to be vaccinated. It baffles me that many pre-med students don't wear a mask in class"
"I don't wanna die"
"For my and others safety"
"To help minimize the spread of COVID-19"
"Because I don't want to get COVID and I don't want to spread it"
"It's the bare minimum"

Yes, I only have the first dose and will get the second: 2 responses

"Why not"
"The quicker we keep it from spreading the quicker we can return to normalcy and those at risk are safer"

No not yet, but I will get at least the first dose sometime soon: 1 response

"Not comfortable with the potential risks because I always get side effects from things"

No not at all, and I will not even get the first dose: 5 responses

"Because I am healthy as it is at the moment and don't want to jeopardize my future health by getting the vaccine. However possibly in the later future I'd reconsider"
"I'm healthy and don't trust vaccines and all the unknown long term effects that we find out each day"
"I am not vaccinated because personal convictions"
"Medical exemption"
"It's not safe for me to get Pfizer due to my undiagnosed autoimmune disorders. Johnson however, I might get"

According to the data, approximately 73% of those who filled out my survey are currently vaccinated against covid-19 with at least the first dose.

3. Do you wear a mask on campus? And why or why not?

Yes, everywhere on campus at all times (except for when I need a fresh breath of air): 7 responses

"I wear a mask because I compare the slight discomfort of a cloth on my face to someone else's grandmother on a ventilator. My discomfort is MUCH less than another person's pain"
"I can't afford to be sick on top of all my classes and studying. It would set me back and I could put others at risk"
"For other people's comfort. I can't get Pfizer so I'll at least be helpful"
"Mainly fashion but it also helps prevent spread, I think"
"To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 should I have it"
"Because I want to protect myself and others""
"Again, bare minimum. I'm doing the right thing for other people"

Yes, but only indoors, and I take it off when I'm outdoors: 3 responses

"Protect others from my germs and keep myself protected from theirs"
"I wear a mask indoors because of the circulation of the vents and being in such close proximity greatly increases spread. I take it off outdoors because having the mask on causes me anxiousness and it feels harder to breathe so by time I leave the room I just need the good 15 minutes between classes to recuperate"
"I have no idea whether I'm asymptomatic or not, so I wear it just in case"

Sometimes... some days I do, but some days I don't: 3 responses

"Depends on size of the class"
"I'm vaxxed so if a teacher requires it I'll wear it, if not. I won't unless I'm feeling under the weather or it's a tightly packed class"
"I just had covid so I have natural immunity. I'm not too worried about getting it"

No, not at all: 9 responses

"To be honest it's uncomfortable in the Florida heat and just don't really want to wear a mask"
"If' it's not an N95 it's useless"
"CDC says if I'm vaccinated I don't have to"
"I am vaccinated"
"I wear glasses in class and they fog up way too much"
"I've already had Covid, I'm protected and also not worried"
"Have the vaccine, don't like to wear them, doubt their efficacy"
"They don't work"
"Being fully vaccinated there isn't much I have to worry about health wise for me. I don't wear a mask because I'm not really at any risk"

According to the data, approximately 45% of those who filled out my survey wear a mask on campus everyday whether that is both indoors and outdoors or only outdoors. Approximately 14% are inconsistent with wearing a mask on campus, and approximately 41% don't wear a mask on campus at all.

4. What percentage of your classmates/professors do you think are not masked in your classes? And what are your concerns about this, if any?

"In the business building? From what I saw it seems like 98% are unmasked"

"It's ridiculous. A mask isn't a hard thing to wear and the CDC advices everyone in Florida to wear a mask even if they're vaccinated. I don't feel that campus is a safe place to be"

"95%" (2 responses)

"I don't have concerns since there are other worse diseases out there and most people on campus are healthy individuals. If you have underlying health issues wear a mask or attend virtual"
"Overall not really concerned, I am slightly concerned about the elderly"


"Because I'm vaccinated. I have the free will to choose to be as others have free will not to"

"85%" (2 responses)

"No concerns"
"None? I meant what I said"

"80%" (2 responses)

"As long as everyone keeps distance it should be fine"

"80% in some. There's only one class where almost everyone are masked"

"I feel confident in my answers"

"80% [of] students [are] not masked but all of my professors have been so far"

"I don't have any concerns"

"Depends on the class, sometimes it could be 80% other times 10%"

"I'm not concerned. Covid isn't going away; we're all bound to get it sometime and being in a classroom with mask-less people isn't an issue for me"

"75%" (2 responses)

"I feel like many pre-meds don't act like future health professionals by not wearing a mask on campus when there's several virus strains now"
"I don't know who is vaccinated and who isn't"


"Nope [I don't have any concerns}, it's everyones own personal choice. Doesn't bother me if you do, doesn't bother me if you don't"


"Covid will spread rapidly throughout campus. It is only a matter of time. The only way we can prevent that is for mandates of masks and vaccines"

"50%" (2 responses)

"Hoping that they are vaccinated"
"I don't [have any concerns] because if I'm uncomfortable I'll wear my mask and keep myself safe"

"50% or more"

"I don't want to risk contracting COVID-19 if another student is potentially infected"

"50%, on a good day"

"Yes and no. [No, because] the class room is empty enough to be spaced out, but [yes, because] there's always the risk of surface contamination"


"If people don't wear masks, it's their choice, but many teachers aren't comfortable with their students not wearing them, and yet the students take them off"


"It's slightly concerning but most are usually vaccinated and I'm wearing my mask"


"No concern"

According to the data, approximately 53% said that 70%-98% are not masked in their classes (with a bit of variance).

5. Were there students already missing the first week of class because they were quarantining due to exposure to covid or having covid? (either your classmates or a friend)

Yes (9 responses)

No (7 responses)

Maybe (1 response)

I don't know (5 responses)

I believe it was inevitable that we'd already see covid-19 cases/exposure on campus during the first week of classes. Whether cases will rise, fall, or stay consistent depends on how well those students follow the quarantine procedures, and how well both students and faculty do their part in preventing the spread of covid-19 both on campus and outside.

6. Is there anything you would like to say?

"If you wanna wear [a mask] wear one. If you don't then don't. Everything these days just divides us, how about you let people have the freedom to choose for themselves in the amazing country the United States of America. Everyone has their own choices"
"I believe that mandates for masks and vaccines would be the only realistic way FGCU does not go into virtual-only classes again"
"Covid is a problem and the statistics are overwhelming as to why people should get vaccinated. That being said they have the right to not get vaccinated and face the risks if they choose. We should focus our efforts on making sure everyone is aware of the statistics instead of mandating it. Their body = their choice"
"Please don't mandate the masks again. We are healthy college students in the age bracket where even if we get sick we have the highest chance of recovering. The isolation has been worse than actual covid has for college age and young adult students due to mental health complications"
"While I have the vaccine myself, that was my own choice to get it. I think it is disgusting that they are being forced upon people that don't want them"
"The majority of the administrators "solutions" are frankly ineffective and feel more as if they're trying to save face. It's fairly obvious that no matter what "solutions" they try to enforce the majority of cases likely stem from off campus activity. Unless they are willing to go after students for partying and going out to bars (which they can't) then most of what they are doing is only delaying the spread"
"Please don't be jerks. It's everyone's choice whether or not to get vaccinated or to wear masks, so don't get angry at people who don't do what you do. They might have underlying reasons why they do it, and it's rude to assume they're fine. As someone who has autoimmune disorders, I'm worried as to what my body may react with if I got [the] Pfizer [vaccine], but looking at me, you'd think I'm a normal college freshman who's lazy. Not everyone is under the same circumstances, so don't treat everyone like they are"
"I wish masks were mandatory at FGCU. We should all do our part in preventing the spread of this deadly disease"
"I'm disappointed with the students"
"I've been documenting the cases since I came to this school. Last year we had about 18 cases, and this year we almost had 200 cases. The spike is absolutely maddening, and there should be no reason as to why masks aren't required. People seem to be comfortable with death waiting at other's doors"

Throughout my article, you saw a common trend of answers that say FGCU shouldn't mandate masks/vaccines because college students are typically healthy and have no underlying health conditions. However, this seventh response to my last question is, in fact, the minority of college students, but let's face it. There's probably a good amount of people that students may be close to, or even just classmates with, who are just like this seventh response but may not be aware of it.

Therefore, I believe that we should raise awareness to those who are just like this seventh response. They shouldn't feel uncomfortable going to class just to have their classmates telling them to join virtually and not getting the full learning experience of college. It wouldn't be fair if all the healthy students were to have the full learning experience through in-person classes while students with underlying health conditions didn't. Although it would probably be safer for them to attend virtually, they still deserve to experience all that in-person classes entail.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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