For many, this week marks the move back to the academic grindstone for college-bound students.
With COVID looming overhead, as it so often does these days, it is a time for gaining knowledge but also a time of apprehension. Building up to the beginning of this semester, I found myself equal measures worried and excited. Before school began, no one really knew what to expect – what policies would be changed? Are we safe?
These questions and more guided everyone’s decisions. I was vigilant, keeping a pulse on the latest news surrounding COVID. The spread in Florida is when I made the choice to continue online instruction this semester. Most people in Warren County go straight to Florida for vacation and I knew that could only mean one thing: a spike of infections when they returned, right in time for kids to go back to school.
I sorely wanted to return to the campus, if for no other reason than my cats wouldn’t be able to photobomb my Zoom sessions and make “contributions” to class discussion by typing messages, but the reluctance to potentially expose myself and my family to the highly infectious disease made me hesitate. In the end, I wanted to continue to social distance and do my part to stem the flow of infections.
Although I’m fully vaccinated, I’ve picked up my anti-COVID habits again, too. When I’m out and about, the mask is back on. I try not to make unnecessary trips to stores or other high-population areas and venues. If I must, I stay away from others as best I can – I don’t want to make someone else sick if I unknowingly become ill or am asymptomatic. It seems like a small price to pay for added peace of mind that I am taking mindful steps to mitigate the spread for the safety of my family and the families of those around me.
A few months ago, I was able to attend a Noon Rotary Meeting when world-renowned Professor of Preventative Medicine Dr. William Shaffner spoke to the members about COVID. When someone asked about the low amount of reported flu cases, he had an answer: masks and social distancing among school-aged children.
School-aged children pass viruses like confetti: colds, flu, strep – and now COVID. Kids pick up viruses at school and they bring it home – everyone’s experienced the stomach bug that gets passed around when their kiddo comes home with it. This is no exception.
If college students such as myself can be afforded safe options, I truly hope to see changes in policies at the state level that will be amended or altogether changed to better protect school-aged children while the nation contends with a virus that is affecting them more now than ever in this pandemic that is clearly not over.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to do my part by masking up and distancing, and hope that others will do theirs, too.
Standard reporter Nikki Childers can be reached at 473-2191.