Open Campus; Closed Concerns?

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Photographs courtesy of SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

As the COVID-19 vaccine was made available throughout the nation, US college and university campuses opened up. The University of Illinois campuses are among those that readily opened in-person courses again. This means students are encouraged, through the UIS vaccine policy, to receive one of the available COVID-19 vaccinations in order to attend on-campus courses. To live on-campus, students are required to have a COVID-19 vaccination. This requirement works to keep cases to an absolute minimum on campus, but will it work in the long run to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks on campus?

The near-complete opening of the UIS campus has provided students with, potentially, better opportunities to absorb course materials. For students that did not believe remote learning allowed many chances to succeed, the campus re-opening is finally an opportunity to learn the way that is best suited for individual students. This is not to say such a decision has come without its concerns. One of the biggest concerns with the campus having reopened so soon is that the gathering of students in a small environment could potentially lead to an outbreak of COVID-19 cases. This is particular to smaller campuses, such as the UIS campus, though it is still an issue that could make larger campuses unsafe as well. The close proximity is enough to negate any quarantine efforts, and despite the disbanding of parties found on campus, it is clear that there are definitely still risks that come with transitioning back into an on-campus lifestyle. Another issue to consider is the attitude students tend to hold towards COVID-19 and the Delta variant amid the re-opening of campus. There can be a tendency for students to view the pandemic as less prevalent, as if the campus being open is a reason to reduce caution as a result.

Despite this, it is promising that UIS has been very responsive to the needs and comfort of its students and has made the campus environment as safe as it can. With the strict regulations for getting vaccinated and tested when living on campus, the decision to re-open campus seems like one that included a great deal of consideration and intention to follow through on necessary preventative measures against COVID-19. Based on what we have seen so far, the risk UIS took seems to be one done in good faith, which in turn should make The UIS campus and community safe in the long run.