Recently, an email was sent out to the Valparaiso University community stating that the university plans to resume in-person classes for the Fall 2020 semester. I’ll admit, at first I was overcome with excitement. Who wouldn’t be after struggling through online classes this past semester? Whether it be academically or socially, ending the semester from home as opposed to on campus affected every student, faculty and staff member in some way. The idea of coming back to campus and actually leaving my house had me elated.
Then my apprehensive side kicked in.
Is it too soon to make this call? I think so. Even though this email stated that it is merely the intent of the university to be back on campus next semester, I still think the announcement should have been made a bit closer to the time classes resume or when a firmer plan was in place.
Is it safe to return to campus? I’m not sure. I think that the right call was made by schools across the country to end the most recent semester online and that it certainly helped contain the spread of the virus to a certain degree. Part of me wonders if going back to in-person classes will cancel out the effect that our strictly Zoom held classes had and will instead only make things worse.
This is especially on my mind with the way the rest of the country is seemingly dismissing the virus completely.
Social distancing and staying home have quickly become things of the past as restaurants, shops, beaches and the like are once again open to the public. While a restaurant has ways to enforce social distancing, I’m unsure if a university would be able to do the same. Would every student be required to wear a mask? Would class sizes be cut? None of this seems reasonable or plausible or efficient.
I think that there is just so much uncertainty with this announcement, and as we get closer to next semester there should be more of a plan laid out.
There is so much still unknown about COVID-19 and, especially with everything in the Valpo area reopening so quickly, I definitely feel there could be a resurgence of the virus or a second wave sometime in the near future. That isn’t to say that the virus has gone away either. It is still very much present and should not be pushed to the back of our minds.
Going back to campus, especially for those that don’t live in the Valpo area, could potentially only make things worse.
I also thought about those students who may have pre-existing health conditions. I don’t think it would be in the best interest of any university to re-open for in-person classes without thinking of every group and demographic of people that could be affected and in which ways.
There doesn’t seem to be a way that going back to campus is completely safe for everyone both physically and mentally, so I’m more uncertain than excited about the prospect.
While the idea of getting to see my peers and professors again next semester is an exciting one, I still can’t help but think that going back to campus isn’t the safest option for everyone. I want to believe that the world will come together and everyone will do their part in helping to slow and prevent the spread of COVID-19 over the summer. Here’s hoping that the university goes the safe and smart route when it comes to classes next semester.
The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the Torch.