Students at “higher risks” of contracting COVID when schools reopen

Haneifah Ahmad, Reporter

As the fall semester slowly approaches, students, staff, and faculty prepare for schools to reopen. Colleges and universities are taking the necessary steps to make sure everyone remains safe, but students have their own opinions about what’s to come in August. 

UNF released a coronavirus update via email about their upcoming plans to keep the Osprey community safe and what protocols will be followed. The “Update on Return to Campus in Fall” said in part: 

The U.S. continues to experience daily new records of  COVID-19,  while the Trump Administration continues to encourage the reopening of schools. Due to the virus, there are more than 3.5 million cases and over 130 thousand deaths, according to the CDC

According to the CDC, institutions of higher education have guidelines to follow to keep COVID-19 from spreading. The CDC has settings IHEs should follow

  • Lowest Risk: Residence halls are closed, where feasible.
  • More Risk: Residence halls are open at lower capacity and shared spaces are closed (e.g., kitchens, common areas).
  • Highest Risk: Residence halls are open at full capacity including shared spaces (e.g., kitchens, common areas).

Although UNF is committed to these protocols, some students find it hard to trust that everyone will properly social distance. Spinnaker reached out to UNF students about their opinion on the university reopening.

Kayla Henry, a Public Health student at UNF, shared her opinion about the recent events. She also talks about how she has mixed feelings about living in the dorms: 

“Due to the current circumstances and the rising cases of COVID-19, I have mixed feelings about the university reopening especially the dormitories. As I understand, students need a place to stay. I also consider whether each person is willing to live by the new rules and procedures that have been provided by the school,” said Kayla. “Not only are students at risk by just being inside of the buildings with one another but also in sharing spaces such as the bathrooms. I also read that following Thanksgiving break, all classes will be under remote instruction which leaves me to wonder if they will make students move out of the dorms mid semester. In terms of being on campus, I worry about students wearing face masks, and keeping the proper distance from one another.”

The CDC also has general settings IHEs should follow:

  • Lowest Risk: Faculty and students engage in virtual-only learning options, activities, and events.
  • More Risk: Small in-person classes, activities, and events. Individuals remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects (e.g., hybrid virtual and in-person class structures or staggered/rotated scheduling to accommodate smaller class sizes).
  • Highest Risk: Full-sized in-person classes, activities, and events. Students are not spaced apart, share classroom materials or supplies, and mix between classes and activities.

Another student, who would like to remain anonymous, was concerned with how the school is enforcing its new rules and if people will follow them: 

“I will say that the university is taking all the precautions they deem are necessary, but I do have concerns as to how the new rules will be enforced. I don’t believe that everyone will follow the rules at all times and I feel as if my safety may be compromised due to someone else’s choices. We are also approaching fall quite quickly and though UNF has been giving us updates frequently, there still isn’t a firm plan of action and how things will be run day to day.” 

Another student had mixed feelings due to feeling isolated and being away from friends: 

“I just hope for them [the university] to take precautions. If I’m correct, I believe not all classes are even showing up in person. That’ll help. I know we probably are all feeling isolated and we miss each other, but at the same time gotta remember this isn’t over.”

It is clear that students have concerns about returning to campus in the fall even though the university is doing what they can. It seems we will have to take the beginning of the semester one day at a time.


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