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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

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

A&M’s pandemic response deserves an ‘A’ rating

Returning+to+normalcy
Photo by Creative Commons
Returning to normalcy

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has been going on for over a year now, it has had the strange effect of feeling like it’s lasted a lifetime. Yet simultaneously, it feels like I was learning how to do the renegade dance (not well, by the way) on TikTok during peak quarantine yesterday. A triumphant return to normalcy is upon us, though!

For the most part, Texas A&M has done an excellent job of handling the pandemic. Things started off a little rough, sure. However, I challenge you to find someone who had a smooth transition from normal life to pandemic life. 

A&M’s handling of the pandemic deserves an “A” rating for many reasons, but for time’s sake, I’ll name only a few. 

First and foremost, the university’s COVID-19 testing program. Early on in the fall semester, kiosks were set up across campus to test for the coronavirus. All students have to do is walk up, schedule an appointment and in just a few minutes they’ll have a plastic stick in their mouth. Shortly after that, usually a day or two, they will have their results emailed to them. It’s as easy as 1-2-3! It should also be mentioned that this service comes free of charge. 

The university did offer in-person classes in both the fall and spring semesters. However, if students didn’t feel comfortable coming to class, they had the option to opt out and attend class through Zoom. This was a considerate measure on the school’s behalf since many students may not have been fully on board with attending lectures in person just yet. 

Wearing masks is not everyone’s cup of tea. Nonetheless, A&M has been vigilant about requiring anyone on campus to wear a mask while inside a building. I cannot count the number of times I saw an employee at Evans telling students to put their masks on properly. In fact, these employees would even make sure students were always six feet apart while sitting together. It is true that A&M has had some issues with compliance, but for the most part, they have remained diligent in mask-wearing enforcement. 

And now, it’s finally happening. No more Zoom lectures; no more online tests; no more breakout rooms filled with awkward silences partnered with blank screens. This is all thanks to A&M making the decision to return to all in-person classes in the fall of 2021. This news is elating, and the school is making the right decision in doing so. 

Positive COVID-19 tests in Texas have steadily been on the decline for weeks now. This is after Gov. Greg Abbott made the executive decision to lift the mask mandate and allow businesses to operate at 100 percent occupancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is even starting to (slowly) get on board, announcing that it’s safe for fully vaccinated people to be outdoors without masks. With that being said, I’d like to take a moment of silence for all the “Karens” out there who will have to find something else to get mad about now. OK, back to my point, which is this: It’s time we get back to our normal lives. 
A&M’s administration seems to agree since next semester things will essentially be as they were pre-pandemic. This includes all in-person classes and, even better, full capacity sporting events, which means the 12th Man will be in full-swing at Kyle Field. 
Next semester will be my last, and I couldn’t be happier that my time at the university I love will end the same way it started. This includes class discussions where I’m often that guy who loves to play devil’s advocate, because why not? It includes getting my same coffee order at a Starbucks on campus and walking into class a minute or two late sometimes (or all the time — I promise, I’m a good student). It includes all the little things that this pandemic stole from us, and I’m so thankful A&M is giving them back to its students. 

Some may not like A&M’s move to return to normal-ish life. But if not now, when? We can’t live like this forever, and I’m thankful to attend a university that sees that. 
Sam Somogye is a political science senior and columnist for The Battalion.

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