The first week of classes are over, and it is safe to say, this has been a rather unique week. Getting adjusted to this new way of conducting college is hard and difficult for us all, and I wanted to share my own experience.

Furthermore, I wish to make a few suggestions as to how Texas Tech can better handle this pandemic amongst their students, some of which should have been implemented from the start and seem rather obvious.

The first week back is something we can all agree worth looking forward to, what with the new people that you meet, the events you attend and the interesting classes. I had been excited in particular since I would be in an apartment with a few of my friends, and would be involved with a fair amount of other activities (one of which being an opinion columnist for the Daily Toreador).

It soon became clear that this would not be your average return to Tech, mainly due to COVID guidelines and restrictions. I seemed to be in the minority of people who still had most of their classes in person, but somehow still feels like disconnected in a way online classes are.

I myself, don’t even find myself talking to new people around me, most likely because there aren’t people around me within 6 feet, and wearing a mask, for some reason makes me a bit less talkative then I might normally be. This is not so much Tech’s fault as it is a byproduct of the restrictions we must have in place to maintain a healthy ecosystem.

All classes require masks, and most professors appear to have upheld that rule to a high extent. In addition, they have also placed us in a seating chart and spaced us out from other students in order to maintain a social distance, which is really important.

Tech seems to be making a genuine attempt to control COVID-19 spread, but on the other hand, this attempt seems a little shotty for an institution of their magnitude. People seem to forget that COVID won’t just be stopped by throwing on a mask, it can spread by plenty of other ways.

Too many times, I’ve seen careless people open doors with their hands, the same doors everyone who enters the building every day touches, and proceeds to touch their face, or their mask to adjust it (which they can later transfer to their face by even more carelessness). A lot of folks don’t seem to understand the danger of washing hands, using sanitizer and being cautious of everything they touch.

You can never know who has handled that desk the class before you, perhaps there is the off chance that it was a student who is just about to get the test results back that they are COVID positive? There is a small chance of that happening, but we must ensure that we don’t take any chances.

Tech seems to remedy this by placing sanitizer stations in most buildings, and I understand it is unrealistic to decontaminate every classroom and door handle after use. They just need to be firmer with the encouragement of safety for these things, if they cannot reach any sort of solution.

That means this duty falls on us, the students, to make sure we watch out for ourselves. Unfortunately, it seems not many students are taking it seriously either. Either by taking off masks in hallways outside classes, by continuing to not social distance or going to parties and kickbacks, many students aren’t handling this situation right.

Overall, it was still a good week back, I finally have things to do besides sitting around the house all day. I know a lot of students will agree with me when I say, coming back to Tech, even in the strange times we are in now, was better than nothing. While we have much to look forward to in the coming semester, we must remain vigilant and cautious if we want to still have a semester.

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