Omicron is raging across the United States, Abilene hit an emergency level six and ACU positive cases hit a high since the fall of 2020.
Last year, when positive cases on campus were in the low 70’s, the campus shut down for two weeks. Classes, rushes, club meetings, you name it, were either canceled entirely or moved to Zoom.
Surely requiring masks only in instructional spaces will be the fix, right? Wrong.
As a student who’s had to work through two years of an abnormal experience, I have one simple request: Don’t start acting like COVID is over now for the sake of a ‘normal semester.’ It’s not worth it.
To start, only requiring masks in instructional spaces is troubling when you consider the numbers of ACU alone. As of Jan. 18, there are 75 positive cases according to acu.edu/coronavirus. 67 of said cases are new and related to ACU while only 52% of all cases on campus are unvaccinated students.
That means not only are cases still spreading and new cases are occurring within the ACU community, both vaccinated and unvaccinated students are testing positive at nearly equal rates. Very obviously, COVID is spreading like wildfire.
The lack of mandates is even more troubling when considering the data of the greater Abilene community. Just last week, Hendrick hospital issued a level six emergency warning according to the COVID dashboard of abilenetx.gov.
According to that same dashboard, there are over 3,000 active cases in the Abilene community, the majority of which are currently affecting 20-29 year olds. On Jan. 14, 328 new, positive cases were reported that day alone.
When all of this data is brought to the forefront it’s hard to imagine that ACU, an institution that is continuously vocal on the safety of it’s students, has decided COVID can only really spread in classrooms.
Something needs to change and it needs to change as soon as possible. The university needs to bring back mandatory mask wearing for an indefinite period of time (not just two weeks), social distancing, and more incorporation of virtual options for immunocompromised students.
At the very least, mask-wearing needs to be required in high contact spaces such as the library, chapel, and the bean. If the above options are not optional, there needs to be a compromise to slow the spread of omicron as families and the greater Abilene community are being affected at incredibly high rates.
I understand the desire for a normal semester, I am hoping for the same. I miss walking across campus without fearing I would get sick or already be sick and spread it to someone who may not be able to fight it off. We can’t just ignore that case numbers are higher than ever for the sake of feeling normal.