Michaelson: Please, Put Your Masks Back On.

It’s really not that difficult to keep yourself, and everyone around you, safe.

by Gavin Michaelson

Since this past summer, when everything felt like it might finally be returning to normal, I feel that many people forgot about the dangers that COVID-19 possesses and became careless. Now, I totally understand the desire to make the most of your college experience — I mean, my freshman year of college ended early because of the pandemic, and my sophomore year was completely virtual. Fast forward to now, I am in my junior and final year of undergrad. As much as I wish I could partake in a number of activities that are definitely not COVID-19 safe, I continue to tell myself that the risk of getting sick is not worth it. I do not want to lose everything that we have finally regained. I already feel as though I am learning so much more, and am actually enjoying my classes now that we are not attending Zoom University. However, if we are not careful, we could lose this privilege in an instant.

Perhaps I am more nervous than most about losing our in-class experiences because of my job. I work at a restaurant near campus and many students, along with non-students, are consistently passing through. While some people are very proactive about wearing their masks, many are not. I worked during the homecoming football game and served upwards of a thousand people within the span of my 8-hour shift. People were crammed together, waiting in line and the mass majority of people that came through the line were without a mask. Ever since, I have become extremely wary of the likelihood that our classes continue in-person for the entirety of the semester.

The University’s vaccination requirements have definitely eased my mind to some degree, but that does not mean the fear is not there. I am sure that I am not alone when I say that when sitting in a lecture and someone sneezes, coughs or shows any other symptom of sickness, I cannot help but look over in a state of mild fear. Every day, I continue to check the COVID-19 cases at the University and throughout the Twin Cities. With Halloween and other holidays quickly approaching, I fear we could have a similar situation to last fall, when there were 78 positive cases among students the week following Halloween and 254 positive cases the week after that — both with one clear connection: Halloween. So far, this fall is not as bad in terms of cases on campus, and I think that is largely due to the mask mandate and vaccination requirement for campus buildings. However, it’s what happens off-campus that causes these numbers to rise exponentially, and with in-person classes, what happens off-campus makes its way into classrooms if people are not cautious.

I cannot stop you from attending parties, or from going out to the bars on a Friday night, but I can and will ask that you are mindful of everyone around you and recognize the danger that you could be putting yourselves and others in by doing so. Please, wear a mask, get vaccinated and if you feel sick, stay home and get tested. It is not worth endangering the lives of others for one night of fun.