Opinion: Why Students Shouldn’t Return to Campus

Opinion%3A+Why+Students+Shouldn%27t+Return+to+Campus

Stephen C. Leverton II, Opinion Writer

App State announced it plans to start classes again on Aug. 17 and end Nov. 24. While this will help protect students from a second outbreak that may happen this fall and winter, it won’t protect students from the surge in new cases North Carolina is seeing from the current wave of COVID-19. According to the North Carolina Department of Human Health Services’ COVID-19 page, Watauga County currently has 93 cases.

In North Carolina, Wake, Forsyth, Durham and Mecklenburg Counties have thousands of active cases. If students from these counties return in the fall, we’ll see cases increase in Watauga, too. It takes between two and 14 days for symptoms of COVID-19 to show up, meaning someone could carry it without knowing until it’s too late. Some may be asymptomatic cases of the virus, meaning they have the virus but don’t show symptoms. Either way, on a college campus, this is especially dangerous because students who live in dorms are in close quarters. 

An email sent out by the university on June 18 discussed ways of reducing risk, including installing sanitation stations, cleaning classrooms multiple times a day and creating social distancing in classrooms. AppHealthCare will also help provide testing to those who need it, regardless of their economic situation. While these are great practices, more should be done. Students living on campus should be given a choice whether they want to live on campus in the fall. If they choose not to, their tuition should be reduced as compensation, similar to how the university gave refunds to students just this past spring semester. Unfortunately, some UNC system universities may not give out housing refunds to students if school gets closed again. App State must give out refunds to students if they choose to close schools. 

While App State is doing its best, we cannot risk unnecessary exposure to this virus this fall until there is a vaccine. Over 120,000 people have died in the U.S. Case numbers have been increasing daily for months. We are still in the first wave of COVID-19 cases. Yes, graduations will be put online and football games will get canceled, but those things are miniscule compared to risking thousands of lives. Human lives matter more than financial gain.