By Matt Cimino
At this point, we’ve all heard the commercials, the press briefings and the guidelines on COVID-19. It may feel like these messages are losing their power because of how often we hear them, but it’s still just as important that we adhere to them in order to keep ourselves and others safe.
Our communities have made it through full lockdowns and mask requirements, but now we are seeing the effects of COVID again as restaurants and other social places open back up. It is on all of us to be safe and responsible so that we can get back to being regular college students again.
If you’re like me, you probably had plans for concerts, nights out with friends and vacations. While concerts have largely been canceled, much of the recent concern with COVID in younger adults has come from vacations. Some of the most common vacation spots have been designated as hot zones for the virus.
If you do go on vacation, be safe and wear a mask and socially distance when venturing out in public spaces. It’s also not a bad idea to quarantine and monitor for symptoms upon returning home and, if you do develop symptoms, getting tested for COVID-19.
Another big challenge we soon will face is the return to school.
As many classes make reductions in size, or are outright moved online, it’s important to stay positive and motivated. COVID-19’s initial outbreak was largely out of our control, but these preventative measures will pass with our cooperation.
Here are some basic guidelines for protecting yourself and others.:
• If you’ll be attending in-person classes, wear a mask. This is a mandate at West Virginia University and probably just about any college holding in-person classes.
• If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, which can include a fever, cough, shortness of breath and loss of taste and/or smell, stay at home.
• If you have any illness at all, stay at home.
• Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds often, including before and after class.
• Avoid touching your face.
• Avoid touching frequently used surfaces.
• Keep your laptop and your phone clean.
• Make sure to get a flu vaccine this fall. You want to avoid getting sick with any illness that will lower your immune system. You also don’t want to be in a position to wonder if the body aches and symptoms you might be experiencing are COVID or flu.
• Find safer ways to have fun. Meet up with only a few friends. Wear masks and maintain a social distance. You can still talk, laugh and exchange stories. Frisbee, anyone? (Although avoid touching your face during and wash your hands afterwards).
• It seems like a cliché, but remember that Zoom, Facetime or other online conferencing apps are a great way to communicate with study partners or groups.
One of the most important parts of being a college student is challenging yourself with new things. These really are difficult and stressful times, but we are living through a significant moment in history.
Challenge yourself and others to be safe and patient as we battle the virus. We want to get out there and experience everything life has to offer, but now is not the time.
If we all do our part in preventing the spread of COVID-19, we’ll be back to traveling those country roads soon.