Assistant Opinions Editor
It’s been over 365 days since we have been on the campus of Whittier College because of the COVID-19 shutdown on March 14, 2020. We have had a year-and-a-half of virtual learning — that is, a year-and-a-half of struggle. Virtual learning has been the most difficult part of my college experience because it has been most of my college experience. It’s college without the fun because it’s just school. Virtual learning is pretty much all I know now. As much as I hate virtual learning — because I felt like I wasn’t able to interact with my peers and professors like I would do in a classroom setting — it’s something that I have become familiar and comfortable with. I can’t imagine what being back on campus with in-person classes will be like.
I was lucky enough to have experienced my first semester of college in person. It was probably the best semester I had in college as well because I was able to grow a lot as a person, being away from home and being surrounded by people I felt comfortable with. It was the first time in my life that I actually felt like I fit in with the people around me. All of that got messed up as soon as COVID-19 hit. We all got sent home and had to transition to online classes. It was a huge adjustment, being back home and having to be taught online instead of in-person — the way I’ve been taught since I was five years old. The biggest adjustment was being away from my friends, who I got to see and spend time with every day when school was still in person. This is what I was most excited about when in-person classes started again.
However, the arrival of the Delta Variant has changed this excitement to fear. I have been vaccinated since March, so many have told me not to fear going back in person, but that doesn’t reduce my anxiety. The Delta variant can even be spread to those who are vaccinated, so there is no saying that this won’t be a COVID-free semester. With Whittier College exceeding 90 percent immunization, there is no say in how the year is going to turn out. Knowing college students, we’ll be hanging out with friends and partying, which can lead to more positive cases. With the lack of ventilation in the classrooms, it can be a warzone for transmitting COVID-19 to other students. This is scary. In my opinion, I think we’ll shortly be sent home again because of the Delta variant.
Being vaccinated is a great thing, as it protects us from getting super sick, but not from getting sick at all. I think this is a big misconception among people. I have heard many college students say, “I’m vaccinated; I won’t get sick,” yet I know and heard of the breakthrough cases that have been going on for months. Luckily, most of the vaccinated people I know who got COVID-19 were only sick for about a week with mild symptoms, but they still got it. According to Terry Hartle, Senior Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs at the American Council on Education, “the Delta variant is even forcing schools in areas with high vaccination rates and with COVID-19 vaccination requirements to put in place mitigation measures they had hoped to avoid, such as mask mandates and social distancing.” Even with us being vaccinated, it doesn’t protect us from getting sick, or getting others, who haven’t been able to get vaccinated, sick.
Overall, going back to school in person is a good thing because we’ll be among people our age after being isolated for months. Also, learning in person is a lot better than online because of the interactions we will be able to have with our peers and professors. We are able to make better connections with people. However, with the Delta Variant causing cases to rise throughout the country, it is very alarming and scary going back. I just hope Whittier College sticks to the COVID-19 precautions in order to keep us safe. Also, I hope that Whittier students don’t question the mask and vaccine mandate the College has put into place.
Featured Image: Kristi Weyand / Quaker Campus