When I received the news that Union was going to be online for our first week of winter term, my initial reaction consisted of frustration and anger. I had eagerly looked forward to a normal return to campus after my winter break. However, although I was initially frustrated and upset at Union’s decision to be online for a week, I came to the conclusion shortly after the announcement that this was in the best interest of the Union community.
I believe that us having to spend a week at home was better than risking the possibility of shutting down campus for the whole term if positive tests were detected early on. These early cases, that could have come from New Year’s Eve parties and other holiday celebrations, were avoided by delaying the start of in-person learning. The right decision for Union was to start the term remotely, as it did not make sense to quickly return to campus with the Omicron variant as such a foreseeable threat.
By being back on campus, I have noticed that the school’s precautions have extended beyond remote learning. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that the measures put into place the first week back of having to sign up for the gym and having limited seating for meals were not ideal. Nevertheless, I think that these measures were necessary given that many students and staff had tested positive since January 1st.
Our school, in my mind, is very lucky to be back at all, given that schools like Emerson and Northeastern were delayed for many more weeks online. The fact that classes were held in person, even though large activities and meals were limited, is a blessing by itself. We should be grateful that we have the opportunity to be back in person at all and I think I speak for many when I say that we would much rather have classes held in person than online.
The simple joy of seeing people in person, this past week, has made me happy to be back.
We all know that Zoom classes miss out on the opportunity to truly connect with our peers and professors. Being in a shared space together, where we can learn and grow, fosters a sense of community and purpose that is absent on Zoom.
Overall, I believe that Union made the right choice in delaying in-person learning for a week. Coming back during week one held too many risks. I think it was apparent, given the risk of the Omicron variant, delaying the start of classes was the right move and was necessary to keep our community safe. I would say that while some may be hesitant to follow the new guidelines on campus, they are necessary in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Extra testing and need for boosters are crucial steps in ensuring that everyone is well-protected. Our college has always prided itself in the benefits of in-person learning and I am so glad that it has not been taken away from us in the midst of this pandemic.