Tea Time with Tagwa: Returning to VCU’s campus during COVID-19

Illustration by Karly Andersen

Tagwa Shammet, Opinions Editor

Tea timers, it looks like I’ll be seeing you back on campus this fall.

I can’t really decide if I’m excited or nervous about our return. It’s been nearly four months since we’ve left campus. Our lives have been uprooted, and most of us have returned back home to our high school lives.

If you had asked me two months ago, I would have been over the moon about returning to campus. While I love my family, the freedom of college is unmatched. We are all only used to two months maximum of house time for summer break. Yet, due to the pandemic, we were thrown back into the life of dependency with our parents.

But now, I’m quite nervous to be back. With three in-person classes, I will be surrounded by people many times during the day. On top of that, I also have two jobs in which I will have to interact with people. My dad has always told me that I cannot control people’s actions, only my own; but during a time of such uncertainty and danger, I wish I could control other people’s actions too.

I am genuinely confused as to why people are still going out to bars and restaurants during a pandemic. Perhaps I missed the memo, but isn’t COVID-19 still a very present danger in our lives? There is no reason for people to be going out and about. There is no reason for a night on the town. There is no reason to be returning to normal life.

Coming back to campus can be an exciting theory, but with the looming danger of the coronavirus, we need to be careful. We need to remember that the pandemic is far from over. According to the Virginia Department of Health, Virginia has had nearly 82,000 confirmed cases.

It is vital to understand what the term “confirmed” means. Many people seem to forget that the number reported by the VDH is actually smaller than the number of actual cases. Some folks do not have access to testing or are choosing not to get tested. Therefore, we have people walking around with cases, yet haven’t been tested for it.

How you live your life is your prerogative, however, please do not put my life at risk. 

Wearing a mask is not, has never been and will never be optional. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield said: “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting.”

I struggle to comprehend how the uneducated teenagers at the beach think they are smarter than the leading health professionals. Wear a mask. I promise you, it’s not as difficult as you think. It becomes second nature when you truly understand how much it can help slow the spread of the disease.

Wear a mask. I promise you, it’s not as difficult as you think. -Tagwa Shammet, opinions editor.

Luckily, VCU is making face masks required for all students who are on campus. Quite frankly, if you can avoid being on campus, I’d recommend doing so. I don’t see any need for you all to be hanging at the commons or chatting in the library.

It is also important that I mention something we learned as children: Keep your hands to yourself. You might think someone you are comfortable with doesn’t mind getting a hug or a handshake, however, you never truly know. Do not assume you are the safer of the two.

Returning to campus doesn’t have to be the scariest thing in the world. We can all enjoy being back together, but safety needs to be a priority. And that’s the tea.

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