As the world approaches the first anniversary of the shutdown, warnings of February being the worst month of the pandemic seem to be falling on deaf ears. For better or for worse, the constant news cycle of pandemic casualties seem to have desensitized so many of us. The continual challenge posed by the pandemic has led to a collective cabin fever.
Despite the occasional pop-up clinic, vaccinations remain out of reach to many of those within higher education. University employees in Kansas are delegated outside of Phase Two despite similar risks in elementary education warranting vaccinations.
With the first week of the Spring semester upon us we are once again asked to weigh our personal safety against class attendance and our grades. Without proper accommodations, students, faculty and staff are left to fend for themselves as mask mandates begin to lose the power they initially carried.
As the virus continues to rage, it is unsympathetic to the comfort level of our masks, or how inconvenient social distancing can be, especially in the classroom setting. Herd immunity remains far ahead of us. If we are to survive this pandemic -- it is an effort that must be taken together.
From wearing masks, to remaining six feet apart when possible and washing our hands, personal responsibility can afford us some level of safety. There are so many things outside of our control, situations that force us into close proximity, jobs that cannot be done remotely and classes that must not only be attended in person but lack both leniency and grace.
As Kansas approaches 4,000 deaths due to COVID it is the responsibility of students, faculty, and staff to hold each other to high standards.
It is important to remember the only actions we can control are our own. Although we cannot force our family and friends to change their behavior overnight, we can still hold them accountable.
Having expectations for ourselves and those close to us can be as simple as remembering and sharing the importance of mask wearing and social distancing when it gets the most challenging. It can mean questioning sources and ideas, even when we see something we agree with or feel strongly about, or even when someone close to you disagrees.
No matter our thoughts on the pandemic, facts are facts, doctors are doctors, right is right and wrong is wrong. Sometimes the most important decisions, the decisions that impact those around us the greatest, are the least convenient for ourselves.
The easiest course of action is to lose sight of the future and tell ourselves if we ignore the pandemic it will go away. It is almost as dangerous as telling ourselves if it doesn’t directly impact us then it is not important.
If we want it gone we have to extinguish it ourselves through action, education, and understanding we are all in this together-- for the good and the bad.