After nearly two years of fully online modalities, President Eighmy announced that the student body would be returning to traditional in-person classes starting on Sept. 13. After constant observation of positivity rates and hospital admits in Bexar County, UTSA administration concluded that we are “past the peak of the COVID-19 Delta variant.” While there is much room for excitement about our new “normal,” there is an inevitable element of worry. The decision, although well-informed, puts students and faculty in a precarious position. As we move into this change, some students might feel eager to learn in a classroom setting again, while others might be concerned about the safety of themselves and their families.
According to the CDC, the Delta variant can cause more infections, spreads faster than earlier forms of the virus and is airborne. A vaccinated person is less likely to be hospitalized or die from the Delta variant. Studies have also shown that fully vaccinated individuals that contract the variant appear to be infectious for a shorter period of time.
Due to Gov. Greg Abbott’s vaccine mandate ban, UTSA can only recommend that students and faculty get vaccinated. Sadly, this leaves a chance for more positive cases on campus. Knowing that this is a concern, President Eighmy sent out an email about vaccination rates on campus.
“…UTSA’s contact tracing and quarantine management programs are in good shape, and the positivity rates within our Roadrunner community are below that of Bexar County. Finally, we can report our UTSA community vaccination rates as of last week: approximately 76% of faculty and staff and 62% of our students have gotten at least one vaccine dose,” he said.
Students who don’t have the vaccine and choose not to wear a mask in classrooms and shared spaces pose a risk to everyone at UTSA, as well as friends, family and loved ones. If you are a student without the vaccine who doesn’t wear a mask, it might be helpful to take a step back and think about who could be affected by your lack of action. You could save lives by simply making the appointment and following through. It is safe to assume that many people are ecstatic that the long months of Zoom meetings and learning from home are over, for now, but if we want to continue like this, we still must get vaccinated and wear our masks.