Concerns arise amid Omicron variant spike

A+grouping+of+pediatric+Pfizer+doses+sit+on+a+table+at+the+Carle+Health+vaccination+pop-up+on+Nov.+6.+Students+are+nervous+about+the+new+Omicron+Variant+spike+and+have+fears+over+what+the+spring+semester+will+look+like.

Cameron Krasucki

A grouping of pediatric Pfizer doses sit on a table at the Carle Health vaccination pop-up on Nov. 6. Students are nervous about the new Omicron Variant spike and have fears over what the spring semester will look like.

By Nandika Chatterjee, Staff Writer

After two years of the pandemic, wearing masks while waiting in line for coffee or while speaking to a stranger on the bus has become the new normal for many.

However, many said it still feels like the world is learning something new about the coronavirus everyday. This includes the spread of new variants, such as more recently, the Omicron variant. 

The news of the new variant surfacing also lead to new worries for students at the University who said they are concerned about losing another year of their college experience. 

Mau Mwachande, senior in LAS, said the thought of losing the final year of her collegiate career is terrifying. She said she had to sacrifice her sophomore and junior year already because of the pandemic.

“I have my concerns about the structure of the spring semester because going back to fully online learning will be extremely difficult,” Mwachande said. “I am also worried about what commencement will look like in May because there is no information on how we can prepare for this new variant.” 

Other possible concerns are the protocol surrounding getting the booster shot. As of now, the University has not required that students get the booster shot for COVID-19. 

Lindsey LeBeda, senior in Media, shared her thoughts on the reasoning behind University policies about the booster. 

“I understand not being able to require the booster shots just yet because you are supposed to wait six months after getting your first set of shots to get the booster, and some people got the vaccine more recently than that,” LeBeda said. 

“I also know that I just haven’t found the right time to get mine yet, even though I fully intend on doing so. I think maybe later into next semester, the school should start encouraging the booster a bit more and maybe requiring more testing for those who are unable to get it.” 

Mwachande said she thinks the booster shot should be a requirement.

“I believe the University should definitely consider making it required for the 2022-2023 school year,” Mwachande said.

Victoria Gomez, second year graduate student in ACES, said she wasn’t surprised by the Omicron variant coming to the United States.

“Upon hearing about the new variant, I felt disappointed, but I was not surprised” Gomez said. “I briefly indulged the feeling of desperation and thought ‘We’re never going to get rid of this virus,’ and then I went about my day after my dramatic moment.

“What else can I do except continue to exist and try not to get myself or others sick? We’ve been doing this for almost two years, so I’m used to it now.” 

Gomez said COVID-19 is still an inconvenience.

“I feel like COVID-19 is just always in the background and creating inconveniences that have become commonplace, and I have no option but to maneuver around them,” Gomez said. 

Gomez discussed her concern for the people who don’t have the same resources as her.

“I think that’s where the impact is gonna be the largest,” Gomez said. “I really hope I get a real graduation, though. I’m trying not to dwell on it.”

Gomez said until there is more information on how the Omicron variant will affect the University, it is important to take each day as it comes and stay safe and healthy. 

“I already freaked out about COVID-19 in 2020, and I’m not going to do that again; it was lame and actually quite unhealthy,” Gomez said. “Since I don’t want to relieve that anguish I felt that year, I’m just going to take it one day at a time and keep doing what I’m doing to protect myself and others.”

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