Photo via MTSU
Early this summer, Middle Tennessee State University students felt comfortable returning to school since the pandemic’s end was in sight.
However, the Delta variant became more prominent, and the number of positive COVID-19 cases rose worldwide and in Rutherford county, thus sending MTSU a few steps back.
At the beginning of August, MTSU’s President Sidney McPhee recanted previous guidelines and implemented new protocols regarding the Coronavirus, such as requiring masks on campus.
MTSU has set strict guidelines and has assigned consequences to those who do not follow.
“Students who do not wear the appropriate face coverings in indoor areas may be referred to Student Conduct for disciplinary action,” according to the MTSU website.
McPhee has ensured access to free vaccines for students and staff, which can be received on any day at MTSU Health Services, as well as free COVID-19 testing.
However, free vaccines and testing do not always keep the community safe.
When asked about how the Delta variant has affected her, MTSU student Hannah Plunkett said, “I’ve had friends and family both affected and lost because of COVID and the Delta variant.”
This week, the seven-day average of new COVID cases was 279, however, last month was only 80, according to the New York Times.
Continuing, Plunkett stated, “Family members and friends can’t visit each other; we all have increased anxiety about going to work and school because the numbers are higher, and no one is really taking it seriously.”
Plunkett had hoped that MTSU would go back to all-online schooling once the number of positives started to increase. Yet, that was not the case.
However, MTSU and McPhee are willing to follow all the Centers for Disease Control guidelines as they are updated, and the future is not written in stone.
Considering the future, senior at MTSU Maia Ruffin said, “I personally think things will get worse if we continue in-person classes because of how many people are on campus on a daily basis, especially with masks not being required outside. Even inside the buildings, many people aren’t wearing masks, so that is concerning.”
With only around 37 percent of Rutherford county fully vaccinated and the amount of COVID-19 cases increasing, that is a foreseeable possibility.
An employee of MTSU, who wished to remain anonymous, said the college should “require [vaccination] for employees and for students taking on-ground classes.”
As the pandemic continues and the reality of the situation gets worse, many students are feeling a strain on their mental health. Keely Ginder, a photography major at MTSU, said, “I’m losing hope.”
Proceeding, Ginder admitted, “I feel like I’m spending my 20s isolated to class, work and my apartment.”
When students come to college, they expect four years of learning and having fun. However, these last few years have only consisted of loneliness and pressure for most.
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