How Safe Do On-Campus Students Feel Being Back in Classrooms?

Written by Daneli Atilano

art piece with mask on
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

This year’s fall term has brought a wave of emotions for EOU students, ranging from the bubbling excitement of starting a new school year—to having anxieties about attending class on campus amidst a global pandemic. 

The pandemic turned the world upside down and changed what college learning looks like for students. This new way of learning came with changing guidelines and requirements for both students and faculty with the intention of decreasing COVID-19 cases and ensuring a safe learning environment. 

Part of the guidelines for on-campus students to follow include social distancing, wearing face masks, completing a Daily Health Check, and more recently “students were required to show proof of vaccination or submit an exemption request,” by October 22. 

While some students feel that these guidelines have been sufficient in satisfying their feeling of safety—others feel that it is not enough.  One source expressed that while the requirement of vaccination and wearing face masks made them feel safe, the reality of people following these rules is disappointing. 

As a result of EOU’s vaccination requirement, 76.7% of in-person students and 80.1% of EOU employees are vaccinated, “as of October 24. This still leaves 23.3% of in-person students and 17.7% of EOU employees,” exempt from vaccination. 

Seeing that well over half of in-person students and employees are vaccinated may be reassuring students’ feeling of safety, so remains as an area of concern for students? The answer is face masks. 

The official CDC website states that unvaccinated people or those who are not fully vaccinated should wear a face mask when indoors or when surrounded by unvaccinated people outdoors. Part of EOU’s COVID-19 guidelines requires face masks to be worn properly (covering both nose and mouth) both indoors and outdoors, but how well is this requirement being enforced in classes?

It may be difficult and even uncomfortable for staff to remind students to wear a mask or wear it properly while still trying to get through their lessons, but if students refuse to follow this requirement to help stop the spread of COVID-19 on campus, then how safe can in-person classes really be? If the unvaccinated 23.3% of in-person students and 17.7% of EOU employees were to not properly follow the face mask requirement, the previous efforts of students and employees would be futile in stopping the spread of COVID-19. 

Sources:

Data Dashboard | Coronavirus Information (eou.edu)

How to Protect Yourself & Others | CDC

Oct. 15, 2021 – Friday COVID Update | Coronavirus Information (eou.edu)

Sept. 24, 2021 – Friday COVID Update | Coronavirus Information (eou.edu)

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