Caution is not enough for students to return


Illustration by Alexandria Moore.

On April 29, President Rodney D. Bennett announced that on-campus operations will resume in the fall. 

As President Bennett and school officials look at news coverage regarding COVID-19 unfold and follow guidance from public health officials, they are aware that these plans could change depending on what the future holds. However, they are planning to bring students back to campus as soon as possible while still remaining safe.

Even though there isn’t a full plan laid out as of now for Southern Miss reopening, Bennett mentioned they will be looking at the public health guidelines when implementing these rules, including the “requirements of protective face coverings, strict social distancing, and with increased sanitation of high-traffic areas, along with course modifications.”

Some concerns I have heard about are regarding the sanitization of the buildings. With students moving back and forth to classes and other school buildings, this can definitely be a germophobe’s nightmare in the middle of a viral pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website states that germs from the virus can last for hours and even days on surfaces. Expectedly, many have doubts about how rules will be enforced by university officials in keeping campus germ free.

The fear of coming into contact with others is also a big hurdle not many are ready to take on yet, especially with constant news coming out about how death rates in the United States are doubling the rate of the rest of the globe. 

As Southern Miss is a middle-sized school, our institution is always sending off new graduates to their jobs and bringing new freshmen in from their hometowns across the globe. With the numbers still increasing in some areas, students coming from every corner of the Earth to one location does not put some students at ease. When thinking about students who have weakened immune systems or other disabilities posing them at greater risks of contracting COVID-19, I don’t see many direct ways to put them at ease.

The only way many students will feel comfortable is by rule enforcement to ensure the spread of COVID-19 is put at a halt. Hearing many students saying that they are excited to return to campus is fantastic to hear, but caution must be enforced to bring life at Hattiesburg back into full swing.

While Dr. Anthony S. Fauci is working day in and day out under Trump’s task force to help develop a possible vaccine, news articles say it could take 12-18 months for a vaccine to be made for public use. This is due to the many currently still in clinical trials right now, with 10% being approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

In the meantime, we must make the most with what is given to us. Caution is necessary to be healthy and safe, which I trust our school will provide. But the responsibility is on us students, too, in making sure we aren’t promoting the spread.