After 18 months of a global pandemic, desks are once again filled with university students and groups of students can be seen rushing to class. Many returning students may feel like strangers to campus after taking remote classes. Even simple tasks, such as sitting at desks for over an hour, is something to readapt to.
Students now have opportunities to get involved with Biola’s in-person community. Everyone’s college experiences were affected by the pandemic and, in some sense, put on pause.
Now, the only reminders of the pandemic on campus are mask requirements and weekly testing for unvaccinated students. As students re-enter classrooms, they navigate the possibility of unanticipated COVID-19 restrictions, while adjusting to a new learning environment.
COVID-19 AND THE DELTA VARIANT
It is important to remain vigilant and compliant to foster a safe and healthy education experience for the university and all of its students and faculty. On Aug. 29 the Los Angeles County Public Health reported that there have been over 1.4 million total cases and over 2,300 cases since Aug. 30. Over the summer months, data reveals that numbers peaked in the 18 to 29 age group, hitting over 300 cases. The first two weeks of August recorded over 2,600 positive COVID-19 results from students in LA County.
The delta variant of the coronavirus spread rampantly and affected those who are vaccinated and unvaccinated alike. Little information is available on this variant, however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that it is “more infectious and [is] leading to increased transmissibility when compared with other variants, even in some vaccinated individuals.” Due to the contagiousness of the delta variant, it is increasingly important for students to continue wearing masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
Biola’s response to LA County COVID-19 protocols was appropriate and effective. According to Biola’s website, “The health and safety of our Biola community is of the utmost importance.” This proved evident through the university’s health documentation requirements, as well as their required surveillance testing for those students who are not fully vaccinated. These practices maintain a healthy academic environment for students, as testing and documentation increase awareness of potential outbreaks.
OTHERS-MINDED ACADEMIC ENVIRONMENT
No matter your stance on masks and the COVID-19 vaccine, it is important to be considerate of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Protect one another and serve each other by keeping each other’s health and well-being in mind. While you may be fearless of the virus, your neighbor may have immense health trauma or anxieties during this unprecedented time.
In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul exhorts the church to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
As students now readapt to sharing a learning environment together at Biola, it is important to be walking examples of God’s love through an intentionality to protect one another from harm. Every student has a responsibility to consider how their choices may potentially impact everyone else.