As some college students are now returning to campus, others are being sent home due to coronavirus outbreaks.
In late August, The New York Times reported that over 26,000 cases have been reported across over 750 college campuses since March. Those numbers were reported just as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sent its students home on August 17, one week after classes began, according to USA Today. Courses in the University of California network will be offered mostly online, with select in-person classes as many counties have prohibited indoor lectures. Recent press releases from public schools in Northwest Arkansas have announced that schools are ready to move online whenever necessary. As of August 31, two high schools in Arkansas, Cross County High School and Marshall High School, have moved online after one week of classes, according to KATV, Little Rock News.
John Brown University’s new rules and procedures include masks, physical distancing and the option to learn online through Zoom. All of these measures are in place to keep students on campus for as long as possible.
Senior intercultural studies major Kat Caldwell recently weighed in on the safety of students on campus. “I was worried about how to socialize with masks and distancing and even trying to remember how to socialize after being home for so long. Practically speaking, the COVID guidelines are easy to follow,” Caldwell said, “However, actually putting it into practice, sometimes it is really hard to not hug your friends, or sometimes you are having a conversation and you forget to keep six feet between you and the other person.”
“One of the hardest things is to have to figure out how to adjust ministries’, clubs’ and organizations’ activities to fit COVID guidelines,” Caldwell said. “It worries me because even if most of us follow the guidelines and are very careful in hopes of getting to stay on campus all semester, it will be the few careless and selfish people that will ruin it for the rest of us.”
Julia Mattis, sophomore digital cinema major, recently made comments on Instagram about masks on campus. “I have found it so discouraging that many students are acting as though they do not understand the rules, or are just fully choosing to disregard them and essentially go about life in JBU’s community as if it were any other regular year,” Mattis said.
She noted that some friends follow the rules, but others do not, forcing her to decide between hanging out with them or staying in to feel safe. “The honor system just doesn’t seem to be cutting it in terms of adhering to the COVID-19 rules at JBU anymore. It’s disheartening,” Mattis said. “Strictly enforcing social distancing during meal times, yet saying nothing to students sitting in large clusters unmasked on the quad is absolutely a double standard for JBU students, and it needs to be eradicated.”
“Wearing a mask and social distancing around campus has become second nature to me, and I already feel like I am getting the hang of constantly sanitizing my learning environments,” Mattis said, “I think my friends, for the most part, are on board with the new rules because they would like to stay on campus this semester for as long as possible.”
While the new semester brings new classes and routines, it also presents new social norms and anxieties. “Even with the new COVID policies, you can still see friends you haven’t seen since last semester and still partake in the JBU community. Right now is just a time to have to get creative with how you do things,” Caldwell said.
Photo: Catherine Nolte, The Threefold Advocate