Life on College Campuses In The COVID-19 Era: Young and Responsible

Life on College Campuses In The COVID-19 Era: Young and Responsible

Disclaimer: This blog was penned by an anonymous medical school student and edited/added onto by the COVID PreCheck content team.

As a 27-year-old adult, I spent the past summer months living at home with my parents. My lease was up at my house in Chapel Hill, and my new lease to move in with four of my friends wouldn’t begin until August. Never in a million years did I think I would be quarantining for months in my hometown due to a pandemic.

Universities across the nation were shut down and I had never had so much free time. I went from having 17-hour workdays to zero responsibilities or obligations. I found new ways to socialize through Zoom parties and filled my time completing 1,000-piece puzzles and painting canvases. It was honestly a breath of fresh air.

Fast forward to August and I am riddled with anxiety about the thought returning to medical school. I have watched many of my classmates’ posts on social media, showing how they spent their summers partying on boats or going to weddings. Young folks are being pegged as irresponsible, but not all of us are. As a professional student, I want to invest in the best of my youth in my education and career. I’ve lost five months of valuable time in the student clinics and that is time I will never gain back. Nevertheless, I do occasionally crave a sense of normalcy.

For me, the college setting is a home away from home — between the five of us and two dogs, there is always something to be entertained by. With many of us in and out of the house between school and work, or visiting with significant others, we’ve established ground rules that we all take seriously. To name a few:

  • Wash our hands as soon as we return home
  • No visitors aside from significant others allowed inside
  • Everyone washes their own dishes

I have outgrown frat parties and tailgates, but we’re all social animals. I want to see my friends, but I recognize that a quick hug or handshake may need to be replaced by a “virtual handshake” for the time being. Many people buy into the popular notion of college students being young and irresponsible. However, I see myself and many others taking proper precautions by wearing masks, keeping up with personal hygiene, and practicing social distancing.

It’s important to remember that some of us may have chronic conditions like type I diabetes, asthma, or immune-deficient conditions. Some of our family members and faculty also have high-risk chronic medical conditions and I do not want them exposed and getting sick, or worse, being a part of those ever-growing COVID-19 statistics. We need to value collectivism over individualism and hold each other accountable so we can fight off this virus.

It’s important to remember that college campuses are often in their own little bubble, consisting of various communities. If we all take this pandemic seriously and behave responsibly with simple measures, we can get our lives back on track. I’m a news junkie, so I’ve closely followed how universities have chosen to reopen. Many are doing so in a hurry or are bypassing the cautions and then shutting down. For example, the University of North Carolina has completely switched to remote learning just days after tuition was due and students have paid rent for the semester.

As a professional student training to enter the medical field, my curriculum requires hands-on training and education. Virtual classes do not meet that requirement. Much of my didactic education is already complete and I rely on building skills by seeing live patients and working under the supervision of our dedicated faculty.

As we know, COVID tests come with limitations of science, cost, and logistics. Administrative and environmental measures like wearing a mask, social distancing, self-checking, and reporting are viable at a minimal cost. It requires responsible people and a committed student body at a campus.

With vaccines still in development, can we not do some simple measures and take ownership of our lives on campus? Infectious diseases data shows some young healthy adults are getting very sick or even dying from COVID-19. Immune response and disease in young people have been unpredictable, thankfully in a small number of cases, but do I want to be that exception to the rule? I think not. I did not sign up to play Russian roulette!

When it comes to creating an environment of safe self-attestation that lets college campuses still feel like college campuses, apps like the COVID-PreCheck from covidprecheck.net are the perfect option.

Visit covidprecheck.net or use it from covidprecheck.app. Students can either perform a self-assessment or get their formal COVID-19 test as needed. When they have a negative result, they or their doctor can update their status on the app, then get a personalized QR-code. Whether we are talking classrooms or gatherings, this makes it possible for any college setting to quickly check that everyone present is negative for COVID-19 or COVID-19 symptoms. The app also has a very cool feature of Virtual Handshake that I can use for small gatherings.

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