As there has been a shift after vaccination, quarantine and social distancing, Mercyhurst’s return to a normal schedule seems necessary. Considering that the Fall 2020 semester started with no mental health days, and the Spring Semester had 3 mental health days after backlash, Mercyhurst students were in desperate needs of breaks. During breaks such as Thanksgiving or the mid-semester break, many students return home only to evacuate the bubble that the university coveted last year. However, many students have missed being able to head home for breaks, and not spend the semester exclusively in class, with their roommates, or hanging out with friends following social distancing practices. But, with the positive of students being able to focus on their mental health with breaks, one concern that can be expressed is that what happens when students go home?
There is no regulation and due to the number of students vaccinated, many of those students do not receive COVID tests due to the lowered chance of transmitting and receiving COVID. Also, without mask regulations or with loosely mandated mask regulations many students would be coming back to school with potential exposure to COVID. Due to pre-existing health conditions and the rates of hospitalization differing for vaccinated versus unvaccinated people, there is an issue if an outbreak occurs on campus.While I can say that having breaks will encourage students to rest and relax, and encourage students to go out and get to know the Erie area, or go back to their hometown, I am slightly concerned about the consequences. Especially since there is no direct cure if a student gets COVID, and the recurring issue that the virus can be asymptomatic, if an outbreak were to happen, how would the university handle it? The best I can say is that I’m excited and nervous.
It will be great to go home and see my family and friends there, but I’m concerned that I may be unknowingly exposed to the virus. However, how many people go home frequently on weekends and how well are businesses in Erie and other local areas maintaining mask mandates? These questions also affect my feelings of having breaks as doing everyday things such as grocery shopping, going to the mall, or going out are going to affect students. I hope that as a community that we are making sure that we follow COVID procedures if we do feel sick, and keep tabs on places that have been marked as COVID hotspots, that way we can all enjoy returning to a normal schedule even though the pandemic is still looming.