2020 is a scary time. Every single month has been something different, and yet the novel coronavirus has impacted so many people worldwide. It has taught us so much as a society about cleanliness and learning to be more careful to take care of our health and strangers’ health. Now, it’s September, and schools are finally opening back up. This means it is up to the students to decide for themselves how they want to view this virus and what role they will take in order to help stop the spread.
Just last week, according to the Hartford Courant, the Oaks apartments in Storrs Center here at UConn were ordered to go under a two-week quarantine by the town of Mansfield, the UConn Health Center and the Eastern Highlands Health District. This was called into action based on a recent increase in cases (although it is not clear how many cases are confirmed to actually be at The Oaks). As a person living on campus this semester, when I saw the letter telling students in that apartment complex to self-quarantine, I couldn’t believe it. The lockdown at The Oaks will not work in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus – here’s why.
Just think about it, college students deprived of social interaction for months, all looking forward to reuniting with their friends at school. Now that the time has come, they are being told to stay inside again. Don’t get me wrong, UConn has attempted a very good idea here. But, will the 700 students living at The Oaks quarantine by choice, and only leave their complex for groceries, solitary activity or to pick up food for takeout? People are given a choice in these tough times, and many students are choosing not to socially distance or wear masks when hanging out with other people. It’s not that we don’t want to keep everyone safe, it’s just that we are young, newly independent during a pandemic, and think we are invincible.
Whether it be the ‘yolo’ mentality that many students have (virus or not) or the idea that we can’t be affected because of our young ages, a letter telling students to stay inside will only make the students want to go outside more. Without any numerical statistics and facts proving The Oaks to be a center for outbreaks, students are not going to listen to it. Take a minute and picture the students leaving their off-campus housing to do whatever they want, whenever they want. There is no way to guarantee that the students will all self-quarantine for exactly two weeks. Garrigus Suites on UConn’s campus were locked down for two weeks due to an increase of cases, and now the administration is claiming that the quarantine was successful in slowing the spread of the virus. But these students were all being monitored on the campus, whereas The Oaks does not have these regulations. It’s much easier for students off campus to leave, so it’s really up to the individuals choosing to cooperate with these societal rules. I believe that the cases in The Oaks will go down if the students choose to follow the quarantine, but that is all a matter of individual conscience. Don’t get me wrong, I want this virus gone, and if it means everyone needs to follow the rules and work together, I want that to happen. The general consensus is to have everyone safe, but the students outside of UConn’s boundaries are not going to completely follow this mandate without a clear consequence. According to the Hartford Courant, the letter sent to the UConn residents of The Oaks said, “While we understand the deeply seated need for human connection and the excitement of spending time with friends, during a pandemic those interactions come with significant risk” . To me, that looks as if UConn understands exactly where I’m coming from, and the fact that students just want to hang out (or else they would be at home, not living here). But it all comes down to a matter of trust, and that is something that will never have an 100% guarantee in today’s world.