My School Is Planning On Going Back To In-Person Classes And I Don't Know How To Feel
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Student Life

My School Is Planning On Going Back To In-Person Classes And I Don't Know How To Feel

As much as I would love to return to normal I don't think it is the best option for everyone.

My School Is Planning On Going Back To In-Person Classes And I Don't Know How To Feel

In early May my university announced that students would be returning to campus for in-person classes in the fall. At first, I was overjoyed and relieved to be able to return to normal again. Sophomore year was going to be so much fun even though things may look a little bit different. I was going to get involved in my sorority, live in the sorority house and bond with the women in my pledge class, get my little and spoil her rotten, and tailgate with my friends for the first time even if it all had to happen while wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing. However, as more details and information came out I grew more hesitant about returning to campus. I would truly love nothing more than to return to Missouri State in the fall but that may not happen.

I don't believe that my school or the state in general is doing what is best for their students. An outbreak is practically unavoidable when students from across the country are moving onto campus. Based on the plans released by the school it seems as though they trying to do as much as they can to keep students safe but they also seem to be ignoring the gravity of the situation. COVID-19 is a novel virus which means that it has not been previously identified and very little is known about it. We continue to learn more about the virus every day but the discoveries are not promising. Although most of the young people who have been infected remain asymptomatic or suffer from mild symptoms, research has shown that many are suffering from long term organ damage as well as lingering symptoms and relatively high re-infection rates. This virus doesn't discriminate and doesn't care if you are a 20-something college student who thinks they are absolutely invincible.

Based on the observations I made during my freshman year I don't believe that students will be able to adhere to rules and guidelines put in place to keep them healthy. Many may choose to not fully adhere to guidelines because they think the virus is a hoax or they don't think the virus will impact them. I don't trust that my peers will wear their masks properly or make an effort to cover their nose and mouth when they sneeze or cough. I've seen far too many girls walk out of the communal dorm bathroom without washing their hands to trust that my peers will wash their hands with warm water and soap for at least twenty seconds. I know that students will party and not maintain social distancing or wear masks. The janitorial staff is already understaffed and overworked (I couldn't possibly count how many times the communal bathrooms were either not cleaned and stocked for days on end) and will have difficulty cleaning and sterilizing surfaces all over campus. I know there will be students who will try to skirt around the mask requirements because they are unable to "inhale their own carbon dioxide" or some other excuse. However, I don't blame them. I understand that so many students just want to return to normal as soon as humanly possible (I'm one of them) but normal isn't the best option for every student.

Whilst universities across the country have been planning to reopen, they failed to keep in mind how their plans would impact the disabled and chronically ill student population. It seems as though people are unable to comprehend the concept that young people can have health issues that alters their everyday life significantly. Not all disabilities or chronic illnesses are visible and are not reserved solely for the elderly. Those of us who are disabled or chronically ill are living in near-constant fear because they don't know how the virus will affect their pre-existing conditions. I am among the disabled/chronically ill student population and it feels as though my university has abandoned me. It seems as though they expect me to risk my health and potentially even my life so that I can get a degree that may not even be useful once we are no longer in the pandemic (I am a theatre major and the theatre industry has taken a huge hit because of the pandemic). Universities are making their reopening plans with their healthy and able-bodied students in mind and just assuming that the rest of us will be on-board or willing to play catch-up.

Many students are entirely unbothered by the pandemic. They assume that the coronavirus is just a bad flu and that if they get it they will be out of commission for a week and then they are fine. Those students are willing to potentially risk their health to continue having a normal college experience. Personally, I don't want to risk my health and I think it largely stems from traumatic past experiences. I was exposed to and contracted the Swine Flu while waiting in a crowded clinic to get the vaccine in the second grade. The entire experience was terrifying and it was the sickest I have ever been in my entire life. It was scary knowing I had this illness that was talked about on the news and whispered about by all the elementary school teachers. I spent about a week quarantined in the guest bedroom all by myself while I laid there in absolute agony. My only occasional visitor was my mother who would come in wearing an N-95 mask to bring me food or medicine. My fever was so high that I was nearly delirious and didn't recognize my own mother from behind the mask. I wouldn't wish that experience on my worst enemy.

With all that being said, I don't think a semester or year at college is worth potentially having to re-live a rather traumatic childhood experience over 400 miles away from home. I would truly love nothing more than to go back to school in the fall and have the perfect sophomore year that I have been dreaming of to help keep me sane since I was forced to leave campus in March. I remained optimistic throughout May and June because the university maintained a cheery disposition as they updated students and parents on their plans to reopen. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that the U.S. is suffering because of the pandemic and we are having difficulty controlling the virus. The pandemic is still going on and people are still getting sick and dying and being back on campus isn't going to change that. As a matter of fact, it was just announced today that the remainder of freshman orientation at my school will be taking place online because one of the orientation leaders tested positive for COVID-19. I would love to go back to campus in the fall but I don't feel comfortable potentially putting myself in danger just to go back to college in the fall. Better to be safe than sorry.

I still have not decided whether or not I will be returning to school in the fall. It is one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make and I feel like I can't really discuss it with my friends from school because they don't really understand why I'm so scared. They think that if the school says it's safe to go back then it is safe and there isn't anything for them to worry about. If I do decide to take the semester off I know that the FOMO will be unbearable and having to spend another six months trapped in the house with my younger brother makes me want to bang my head against a wall. But hopefully, my friends and sorority sisters won't forget about me and keep me updated on what is happening around campus. I'll get that perfect sophomore year that I have dreamed of eventually. It may just have to wait a semester and it will all be okay...

At least that's what I am telling myself for now.

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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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