Cross Currents: Would you feel comfortable being on campus during the omicron surge?

Illustration+by+Alloy+Zarate%2C+2020

Alloy Zarate

Illustration by Alloy Zarate, 2020

August Lawrence and Melissa Garcia

School is back in session, but that doesn’t mean that we’re back in the classroom just yet.

The newest COVID-19 variant, omicron, has spread the world like wildfire, bringing with it a new wave of safety mandates and self-imposed restrictions. One such precaution was City College’s administration switching several classes to online instruction for the first month of the semester. As students, would you feel comfortable being on campus in the middle of the omicron surge?

 

August Lawrence, Opinion Editor

Masks must be worn while indoors, a daily check in and now City College’s latest mandate, a month of remote learning.

The administration’s enforcement of these safety measures has been difficult to follow, but they are put in place for a good reason… For our personal well being and safety against the coronavirus.

City College was right to push the first month of the spring 2022 semester to an online format for the physical health and safety of its students against the COVID-19 variant, omicron.

Over the winter, Interim Superintendent-President Kindred Murillo sent a schoolwide email announcing the switch to ‘distance learning.’ She had warned all winter before that about this new variant and had suggested safety precautions to fight infection — but to suddenly uproot and change the classes like that was a total shock.

Upon discovering this I felt angry and cheated. How could they take away our in-person interactions with classmates and teachers? But then I did some research.

According to the Center for Desiese Control:

  • Omicron spreads faster than the original COVID-19 strains. Because of this the US is seeing record levels of COVID-19 patients in hospitals.
  • Omicron carriers are less likely to show symptoms, such as shortness of breath, fever or muscle aches — allowing for a greater, un-documented spread of the variant.
  • The strain is so new, scientists haven’t had the chance to gather data needed to properly estimate long-term effects or public trends.

Basically, omicron is more contagious, undetectable and unpredictable than any other mutation of the coronavirus so far.

Following the mask wearing and social distancing mandates while on campus last semester was challenging. However, these mandates essentially mirror the CDC’s new omicron rules.

Both include a need for vaccinations and booster shots.

Both require the use of masks in social situations.

Both state the need for frequent testing.

Another thing to remember, the vaccination and boosters are not antidotes. They are protective steps that can be taken to boost immunity. Breakthrough infections of the omicron strain are likely to occur in those who have taken the full Moderna or Pfizer and subsequent booster shots. There is no World Health Organization approved vaccine for omicron yet.

I can’t wait to be back on campus, but the administration made the right choice when they changed classes from in-person to online.

Given the choice between studying remotely at home, safe from infection, or in-person and susceptible on campus, I’ll choose my personal well-being and stay the extra month in educational isolation.

 

Melissa Garcia, Staff Writer

If you would’ve asked me three years ago, I would’ve for sure told you “no.” That you’re crazy to think I’d attend school in person with a high chance of getting the coronavirus.

Fast forward to now having lived almost three years in a pandemic where so many twists and turns have happened, changes good and bad, I’d be comfortable being on campus.

Being at home for months and away from human interaction, along with hands-on learning, has made me realize that I’ve taken in-person classes for granted. Living through a screen and dwelling in my room has taken the fun out of school.

More importantly it has negatively impacted my experience.

Luckily, I’ve been able to attend in-person classes at City College since the fall of 2020. I took some culinary classes and we all had our own stations with our own kitchen equipment, all separated in the cafeteria as a mock kitchen. Although the circumstances were different, not conducting class in a traditional kitchen, the experience of getting to work in a different environment and still learning the course material made it all worth it.

Fast forward to a year later, in fall 2021, more classes were offered in person allowing me to attend some of my journalism classes. It was a different experience getting to sit down, discuss with others on topics and getting to learn in a classroom again.

This past May, once it became mandated by City College for everyone attending in person, I got fully vaccinated and resulted in feeling even more safe and comfortable being on campus.

Life moves on, regardless of what we may be going through. COVID-19 is scary and life threatening, however we also can’t remain trapped at home just waiting.

I work at a youth gym and I’m constantly surrounded by kids and parents of all ages. No longer worrisome, I go home to parents who’ve been out working and running errands all day. Then we’ll go out and celebrate the simple pleasantries by eating out or taking a stroll around town; either with each other or friends who’ve also been living occupied lives.

Regardless of school being online, I’m still going out and putting myself at risk and do feel comfortable with attending classes on campus.