In March of last year, I was in the process of preparing myself to graduate and go off to college. I was excited for the next chapter ahead. However, the COVID-19 pandemic soon came along and completely rocked my world; like many others, I had a first-year college experience that was tarnished by lockdowns, absence of face-to-face learning, and lack of activity and opportunity. Now, as the spring 2021 semester comes to a close, we as students are wondering what’s next.
After a whole year of living life on coronavirus-restricted campuses, I and millions of other college students across the country are asking important questions about the upcoming fall semester. Will my university be reopening to full capacity? Will face-to-face courses be available? Will the COVID-19 vaccine be required to attend my school?
These are the questions that need answering as they have many students concerned about the future of their college careers.
Nationally, COVID-19 cases are declining, hospitalizations are down, and over a third of the country has been vaccinated. The case for reopening our universities could not be stronger. Keeping colleges closed and forcing students into an online learning platform affects our mental health. Not only that, but it impacts our ability to communicate with others, have career-defining experiences, and grow as individuals.
I am fortunate to be attending the University of Georgia in the fall, which has plans to fully reopen and operate at full capacity. However, others are not as lucky. Numerous universities from coast to coast are planning to maintain their hybrid learning formats or continue operations at reduced capacity. We as students should not and cannot be forced to endure this for another semester and continually have our college experience ruined by poor decisions.
Implementing the same policies and restrictions that students have suffered through the past year for any longer could have long-term effects on our future success. Therefore, colleges must make the tough choice to reopen.
I am also fortunate because my university will not be requiring the COVID-19 vaccine to attend. Although it is important for people to get vaccinated, many college students, myself included, believe it should be a personal decision rather than a mandate.
Most young people are not at extreme risk and are healthy. Therefore, the decision to get the vaccine should be left to the individual.
Nonetheless, some universities have taken this choice away. In California, both public university systems in the state proposed requiring all students to be vaccinated. These kinds of proposals threaten personal freedom, preventing those who have concerns about the safety of the vaccine from making their own decision about getting inoculated. Not to mention, the legality of these proposals is questionable.
Although we as college students fear the uncertainty going into next semester, there is optimism that the nation is turning the page on the pandemic and is returning to some sense of normalcy. We all hope that our universities can make smart choices to ensure our success and get back to providing us with the college experience we dreamed of yet had taken away.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.