Suffolk University announced Wednesday that the first two weeks of spring semester classes will be held virtually. As someone whose last semester at Suffolk was during the fall of 2020, my gut sank when I saw this news.
I’ve been looking forward to having my classes in person again. I’ve missed being on campus and truly feeling like a student. But I stand by the university’s decision to put our health first.
A common argument made is that Omicron, the variant that’s behind most cases as of late, has a dramatically lower hospitalization rate than previous strains. While that is promising news, this variant still can lead to significant illness, especially in vulnerable populations.
An example of a vulnerable population is those with underlying medical conditions. It is estimated that at least 45% of Americans have a chronic illness. While they might not be hospitalized from COVID-19, or get a fatal case, they can still fall severely ill.
It’s also important that the term “mild case of COVID-19” doesn’t get misconstrued. A “mild” symptom can still be something as terrifying as feeling short of breath, just not to the extent that it requires hospitalization.
Although the Suffolk community is almost completely vaccinated, that doesn’t take away from the fact that people in vulnerable populations are at higher risk for falling seriously ill.
It’s frustrating that as a society, we’ve seemingly reached peace with getting COVID-19, no matter how debilitating it is, as long as we aren’t hospitalized or die from it.
Luckily, vaccines dramatically reduce that risk, but in the interest of everyone’s health, isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?
I’m disappointed that Suffolk had to make this decision, but I’m more disappointed in the fact that only 62% of eligible Americans are vaccinated. The huge proportion of those who aren’t fully vaccinated paved the way for variants like Omicron to run rampant.
This isn’t a matter of blaming the university for going temporarily online. It’s more so about blaming the irresponsible people that got us here.
People talk about how they don’t feel like virtual classes are worth the amount in tuition that we pay. I agree. But at the same time, I want to feel as protected from COVID-19 as I can, and I think that places with large gatherings, universities in this case, are obligated to keep students and staff as protected from COVID-19 as they can.
Selfishness isn’t the answer here.
Follow Ashley on Twitter @ashleyness2000