The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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‘A lot of unknown’

Photo by Photo by Cameron Johnson
Another Covid Semester

Nearly two years after the COVID-19 pandemic caused Texas A&M to move to online classes in March 2020, students are now facing the reality of another daunting semester — now with the omicron variant. 

As staff and faculty returned to campus for a remote work week at the end of winter break, Chief Operating Officer & Senior Vice President Greg Hartman confirmed students will return to in-person classes on Jan. 18 in a university-wide email. 

Molecular and cell biology junior Madelyn Moody said due to her vaccination status, she is not nervous to return to campus. 

“I know that because I’m vaccinated, if I do get it, it will maybe make me feel bad for a couple days, and then I’ll return to normal after quarantining,” Moody said. “I’m not too worried. Personally, I know it can be more of a concern for other people, but I’m mainly just excited to be able to have in-person classes.”

The university urges students who test positive for COVID-19 to fill out the self-report form. In addition, if the student is living on campus, they should inform their live-in residential staff and complete the off-campus isolation period. 

“We’re going to be done with this hopefully within two weeks,” management senior Dylan Bohn said. “I don’t think that people fully feel as if there’s any necessary action to be taken other than [to] be careful for the next two weeks while it’s going around, but pretty much everybody’s going to get it.” 
University and public health officials encourage students to take preventive actions such as wearing a well-fitted mask, testing regularly and getting fully vaccinated in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 this semester. Moody said she hopes to see the A&M administration continue to promote vaccines.
“I think they’ve done a great job so far, making them available on campus for students,” Moody said.  “I think providing more education awareness on campus will help those who haven’t gotten their vaccine to become more inclined to get it. I think the more people we can get vaccinated, the better that will help us overcome and move past the pandemic, so I’d love to see administration promote awareness for that.”

During the start of the fall 2021 semester, A&M administration required students, staff and faculty to complete mandatory COVID-19 testing, 2.7% of which came back positive. Computer science senior Sam Jefferis said he wished the administration took similar precautions this semester. 
“I really do think that having mandatory testing is imperative, [to] make sure we have a safe return to school with the exponential rise of cases that we’re seeing across the country and within our county,” Jefferis said.

Instead, A&M is offering an at-home test kit to each student and staff member throughout campus. Initially, the university promised up to two boxes per person but scaled back to one the day after the announcement due to a high influx of requests. There are currently four testing sites located on campus at Rudder Plaza, Mays Plaza, A.P. Beutel Health Center and the mobile testing van. 

Jefferis said he believes A&M made an incorrect choice by keeping classes in person because it can’t be done safely.  

“I think they’ve told us that they’re taking a more personal responsibility approach this semester by providing those kits,” Jefferis said. “We’ve seen people who are trying to take   responsibility picking up those kits, but I think the administration has underestimated how many students will actually engage with that service. I really do think that is a very concerning sign where the minimal steps they’ve taken have been overwhelmed by the people who want to be responsible during this pandemic.”
In his email, Hartman said the university will continue to monitor COVID-19 cases locally and across Texas. Moody said she wouldn’t be shocked if classes or extracurricular activities are forced to move online at some point during the semester. 

“That [will] just kind of be something I think the university will keep an eye on after we get back in the first couple of weeks,” Moody said. “I think it’s just a lot of unknown right now. It’s hard to tell. I think it’s just something that’ll be kind of on a week-to-week basis.”
The university will continue to provide up-to-date information on their COVID-19 dashboard.

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