Illness runs rampant on campus following start of academic year

Sick students attend class, risking the health of those around them.
The first three weeks of school can often be the most difficult. With new classes, new social dynamics, welcome-back events, exams and more, the start of the school year is a big change. With fun back-to-school events such as the Waka Flocka Flame concert, Sip ‘n Slide, Victory Night, TU Carnival and the Activities Fair, there have been large crowds back-to-back. Following these events, there has been an uptick in COVID-19, seasonal flu, viruses and “frat flu” going around campus these past few weeks. As many students and faculty have noticed, this has led to classes dwindling in size. In addition to this, the Hurricane Health Center on campus has seen an overflow of appointments for diagnoses and doctor’s notes. Many students have had trouble scheduling appointments due to the uptick in appointments. With the lack of off-campus transportation, some students have been left to suffer on their own.
As many classes have an attendance policy that affects grades, I personally reached out to President Brad Carson asking if there was any way to alleviate the strain on students and professors. Carson said, after investigation, that the Hurricane Health Center has been able to make same-day appointments as early as two hours notice, but this has not been the experience for many students on campus. Numerous students have been unable to get a timely appointment and in some cases are solely tested for COVID-19 or strep and then sent on their way. Student Bella Musollino attempted to make an appointment at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 12, but was not offered an appointment until 5 p.m. the next day. She ended up making an appointment at Ascension St. John Urgent Care to get a diagnosis and doctor’s note. Regardless of where Carson’s information came from, students are still struggling to get in to see a doctor and get proper medication while sickness continues to spread around campus.
Online learning was difficult for many reasons, and some are still trying to improve their GPA following the COVID-19 online schooling. However, having professors offer a temporary online option for classes would allow students to stay up to date on material and would decrease the spread of these illnesses. By offering this time to recover, students will stop falling behind in the early weeks of class and get the proper rest to overcome their illnesses. Additionally, this option would decrease the likelihood of professors teaching to half-full classrooms and scheduling makeup assignments or exams for students that are out sick. As other large events arise, it would be responsible to respond as a campus and not spread disease to outside communities.
Since the start of COVID-19, there has been a trend over these past few years at TU that many illnesses spread at the start of the school year when everyone gets back to campus. It would be a responsible decision of Carson to anticipate this each year to ensure TU responds accordingly. Decisions could include postponing or spreading out welcome events, offering online lecture options or helping students who cannot leave campus to get medical help. Hopefully, TU students and staff will stay safe in these upcoming weeks and recover mentally, physically and most importantly academically from the first three weeks of the school year.

Post Author: Eva Patton