Thinking forward to returning to life off campus

by Shelbi Voss

This semester the university community has been lucky enough to have access to regular, free COVID-19 testing and great contact tracing. The recent mitigation plan set forth by Governor J.B. Pritzker made me think about how being on campus is almost like being in our own little bubble. Our numbers versus those in the surrounding communities and beyond are vastly different. The thought of returning home in just a few weeks without regular testing and quick notification of exposures is almost scary, and for everyone who will be leaving our bubble and returning to the real world, it will be an adjustment.

The Shield testing data show that our positivity rate is at about .41%, while the rest of the state faces a positivity rate of around 8.2%. The difference there is appalling and goes to show how big of a difference easy access to testing can have. I consistently see people at the drive-up COVID testing site at the Campustown Urgent Care on Green Street and forget that for everyone around us, getting a COVID test is more than a ten minute walk to put your saliva in a tube.

In just a few weeks I will be back home and bringing anything to my family has been a concern. But now that I have thought about the risks of being in the world where there is less control over quarantining, testing and social distancing, I realize that this campus is a very lucky place to be.

It also begs the question of how different this world could be if a system similar to the Shield program became more widely available. There is no way to completely control adults in their everyday lives, such as making them download an app and use it to get access to buildings, but easier testing processes and test results could lower the difference between the campus positivity rate and the state positivity rate and beyond.

For those of us who are used to the Shield program and the benefits it brings, stepping off of campus will be a transition, but hopefully with time, our university can become an example for the general public and show staying safe is a team effort.