Opinion: Why I’m choosing to live in a campus dorm during a pandemic

Last year as a freshman, I lived on campus with three other roommates and had to move out shortly after Idaho reported its first positive COVID-19 case. Even then, a few weeks later I applied for housing for the following year with naive hopes and dreams that the pandemic would be long gone. 

However, Idaho continues to report hundreds of coronavirus cases every day, with Ada County being one of the hotspots. Despite this, Boise State has pushed for an opening for in-person classes, and along with that, the university has committed to opening residential halls for students. 

I have spent the past few weeks going back and forth on my decision to move in, especially after two of my three roommates — who are close friends of mine — decided not to. It is a challenging decision for everyone, especially with a lot of classes moving to an online or remote format, and some classes are still being changed this week. Even though it was a struggle, I have decided to move into the Clearwater dorms on Tuesday, Aug. 18, and I am full of anxiety, dread and excitement.

Why I am Choosing to Move-In

Unlike many of my peers, I still have two in-person classes on two separate days. That is two times I have to walk around campus and enter usually crowded buildings, and despite social distancing requirements and a mask mandate, I know there’s a possibility I’ll be exposed to COVID-19. 

That brings me to my main reason, I have a huge opportunity to be exposed to the virus. If I chose to live at home with my parents and commute, I’ll be coming home every day and exposing my parents. My mom works an office job, and while she works remotely most days, sometimes she is needed to go into the office. Office jobs aside, my parents are in their fifties, and while they are not immuno-compromised, they still fall into a more vulnerable category when it comes to COVID-19. 

Something else that drove my decision was my classes. A lot of students, myself included, had a number of in-person classes moved to an online or remote format. Of course, it would not make a lot of sense to live on campus if all classes are online, but I still have three in-person classes to attend. Along with that, this year, I will be working two jobs on campus with office hours and some limited in-person meetings. 

My presence on campus is required for this year. Commuting is a viable option for me since I do not live far away, but with a varied schedule, living on campus simply makes more sense to me. 

The Possible Outcomes

The New York Times reported over 1,000 students and staff are quarantining after a Georgia School District reopened on Aug. 3. Now, that is a mixture of elementary, middle and high schools. A medley of younger kids might not understand the importance of face masks and physical distancing, and I hope that college students will. 

An outbreak on campus does not seem like an ‘if’ so much as a ‘when.’ Even though Boise State is committed to mandating face masks and physical distancing, along with improved and enhanced cleaning, there have been cases of even the most precautious catching the virus. No amount of mask-wearing, distancing or cleaning is fool-proof.. Still, wear a mask.

Mistakes will happen. Some students might refuse to wear a mask. Either way, students and staff will likely get the virus and spread it. 

The Reintegration Plan

Boise State sent out a reintegration guide to students, faculty and staff this summer and has continued to provide updates to the guide as things have changed. Right off the bat, the introduction to the guide seems to show that the University has a mostly positive outlook. 

According to the reintegration guide, “Boise State’s Reintegration Committee drew on a wide range of resources in developing its recommendations. This included guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Idaho Governor’s Office, Idaho Central District Health (ICDH), the Idaho State Board of Education, and other government agencies and professional organizations.”

Clearly, Boise State connected with important individuals who were educated on the subject and are following guidelines released by the CDC, ICDH and the Governor. 

The decision making has been challenging and I’m sure the next several years will be as well. COVID-19 is not just going to go away as President Trump believes, but this is a once in a lifetime experience that we are living through. Things are going to get worse before they get better, but I think it is going to be interesting all the way to the end. 

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