By Alisha Dhar and Brian Martinez
Ringing in the new year, individuals were hoping to leave the pandemic in the past. However, the COVID-19 variant “Omicron” has made this impossible, leaving students feeling uncertain about the new semester.
With North Carolina reaching over 2 million COVID-19 cases according to NC DHHS, many students are left wondering what will happen in terms of the semester and if William Peace University will be able to ensure their safety.
“I don’t feel the most comfortable being back fully in person but I think our community will be safer than bigger schools,” said sophomore Ethan Finsel.
WPU has been successful in tracking COVID-19 cases as seen in the past two semesters. Having vaccinated students upload their vaccination cards and having students get readily tested, has allowed the university to monitor the spread of the virus on campus.
With many North Carolina universities starting their first two weeks with virtual instruction, many students are relieved that WPU is fully back in person.
“I think being online would be a really difficult start to the semester, I personally find it harder to keep information from online classes,” said Finsel.
Even though classes are back in person, there’s always a chance that we may revert back to virtual instruction. With North Carolina’s vaccination rate being around 57.7%, there is hope that more individuals continue to get vaccinated.
Seniors are hoping to have a somewhat normal final semester before graduating, and the new variant has put back the question about going back to a virtual semester. Tia Silvia, a senior pre-law student, expressed her interest in students receiving the vaccine.
“My hopes are that people get vaccinated and we don’t go back online,” she said.
Many seniors hope for a semester that is in person so that they can enjoy their final semester as college students in a new normal.
Omicron is much more contagious than previous variants of COVID-19. Before the risk of getting the virus was beginning to scale down because vaccinated students were beginning to receive the booster shot.
According to the CDC, the vaccine has helped weaken the variant, making it less effective on vaccinated people. Omicron is expected to reach its peak mid-to-late January and hopefully reduce by early February.
It is expected for the cases to rise in North Carolina because the virus is extremely contagious; Joyner House has implemented strong guidelines to make sure that all students, staff, and faculty are safe on campus.
Testing will be available to all students and the wellness center will contact trace students to make sure everyone is tested and negative to return to campus. Unvaccinated students will have to quarantine for 5 days and be sure that they do not have COVID-19 before returning to campus.
With more information on the WPU website, students are able to keep up to date with the protocols and guidelines for being on campus.
There is still the hope that the spring semester will provide a greater sense of normalcy and that the Seniors of WPU get to experience a fun and healthy final semester.
Students happy to be working on campus in Finch Library
Photo by Dezarae Churchill