COVID-19 poses danger for campus return

The threat of COVID-19 is still very much alive and well in the United States. As cases rise across the country due to states being reopened and with safety precautions slowly being lifted, many are skeptical of returning to normal life. 

Wilkes University, in hopes of having students return for the fall semester with new regulations and changes in place, is expecting to conduct classes on campus while taking precautionary measures to ensure members of the community remain safe. But questions still remain: Is the university making the right decision, and is it entirely safe to resume face-to-face classes in the fall?

With the removal Labor Day and mid-October breaks, as well as ending the semester before Thanksgiving and starting classes a week early, students will be at the university from mid-August to the end of November. 

Limiting travel for both students and faculty is an effort to try to keep the virus from spreading to campus. Almost all other higher education institutions across the country are making similar decisions to help keep their communities safe, but it might not be enough.

Although face masks/coverings must be worn at all times on campus/within buildings and social distancing rules will be followed, several aspects of college life that flourished in pre-COVID times are going to make the transition difficult and potentially unsafe.

Unless drastic measures are taken to alter certain parts of the university’s living standards, how can anyone be sure it’s safe to return to campus? 

Roommates living in dorms together automatically break the social distancing rules, and public areas/group settings that are always open to students such as the library, dining hall and study spaces would make it difficult for safety precautions to remain in place. 

Large events planned by the Programming Board, Student Government, Student Development or other organizations known for hosting beloved events on campus will have to adapt to the new “normal” in order to continue with these happenings for students. 

For lecture halls or smaller classrooms, it is almost impossible to properly social distance, which provides another challenge to the plan of returning. 

Although it will be severely important to follow the rules in order to keep everyone on campus protected, there is always the possibility of students choosing not to wear a mask or not adhere to the campus or state guidelines.

Unfortunately, due to the uncertain and unnerving times of the world, it’s easy to feel skeptical about returning to the life that was considered “normal” a few short months ago. 

Resuming face-to-face classes for the fall semester is a step forward in recovering from the way COVID-19 has directly impacted our daily lives. The decision was well thought-out by the university and allows students to return under new circumstances to protect themselves and others from the virus.

However, without thorough and much needed changes to the typical way of life that many Wilkes students are accustomed to, the lingering danger of COVID-19 may be closer than expected. 

Having everyone’s health at risk leaves the question of whether it is truly safe for Wilkes to continue forward with their plans for the upcoming semester. The Wilkes community is awaiting further information about the future of their education due to the pandemic, but it’s most important that everyone stays safe and healthy while on campus in the fall.