Now that summer is ending and schools are going to be in session, the world has a major crisis to work around. Do they open schools and risk students' and their families' lives? Or do they remain closed and figure out how to have students work remotely?
Many people have very strong opinions on this matter, as it concerns their well-being, and I am here to share mine with you.
As a returning student of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I am so ready to go back to school, regardless of the pandemic. Personally, I see it as a major loss if universities decide to close or take a gap year for their students. Being set back a year will have major consequences for people when they join the working world and I don't want to be left behind. That being said, however, I do think the only way to continue functioning as a school is to take as many precautions as possible and follow health guidelines.
The only reason I have decided to return to campus this fall and resume my classes (some in person and some online), is because of the precautions UIUC has taken to minimize risk: COVID testing two times a week, requiring face coverings, take out dining, no visitors in residence halls, social distancing, and online courses.
Even though this year is going to look a lot different for everyone, the vast number of opportunities that physically being at college will still be there. Yes, they will be different and come in different forms that what we call normal, but be there none the less. Personally, I don't want to pass up these opportunities and I want continue to live my life, even amidst a global pandemic.
One of the major setbacks for most people when deciding to return to campus is living in the dorms. I am living in the dorms this fall and am a bit worried about communal bathrooms and common spaces. But, as long as I, and you, wash your hands, wear a mask, don't touch your face, and be conscious of others then we can minimize any speeding of the virus where we live. What is important is that everyone is on board with these rules, and is actively looking out for themselves and each other.
A lot of my friends this year choose to stay at home for the fall semester and return in the spring, taking classes online. Even though I would rather physically be on campus, there are actually a lot of benefits to this—like not paying for housing and meal plans. In the long run, it could actually help you save money to put toward tuition for the next year or to pay off debt.
Overall, I think returning to campus for the fall is worth the risk. I don't want to fall behind and miss opportunities that I would have otherwise had, and I want to continue to live my life to the fullest.
My only fear is that people will not follow the health guidelines and we will be forced to close if cases do start to rise. I am going to do my part to stop spreading the virus, and I hope that every Illini will too!