Over the last few weeks, the number of cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States has spiked significantly. As students leave campus for the semester, we, the editorial board of The Brandeis Hoot, urge students to continue to monitor their health, both physically and mentally.
As scientists continue to learn more about the coronavirus, we, as students and citizens, have a responsibility to take precautions (wearing masks, socially distancing, etc.) that have been put in place to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. As the weather gets colder and everyone is staying inside more, it is important to stay diligent to keep not only yourself but others around you safe.
The current surge of cases in the United States—and around the world—demonstrates the necessity to follow guidelines to maintain the health and safety of as many people as possible. If you are planning to travel in the upcoming weeks for the Thanksgiving holiday or otherwise, try to limit your travel as much as possible. Do not travel if you’re feeling ill at all.
As opposed to March, when lockdowns and restrictions were new, today many Americans may feel a sense of “pandemic fatigue” or a lack of motivation to follow restrictions and safety precautions. But now that the colder months have arrived, now is not a time to become complacent and relax the steps that you have been taking to keep yourself and others safe and healthy. It is much easier to limit the spread of the coronavirus with outdoor activities, but as people move indoors, it is important to continue to practice social distancing and follow local, state and federal guidelines. When cases are spiking to well over 100,000 per day in the US, it is essential to minimize your contact with others.
Students are encouraged to get a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of leaving campus and to avoid traveling if the test is positive, according to an email sent out by Senior Vice President of Communications, Marketing and External Relations Dan Kim.
If you do experience COVID-19 symptoms, it is important that you get tested. In some regions, testing is also available even if you are not presenting symptoms, so do some research to find out about testing availability near you. Testing access varies based on each state and an individual’s insurance plan, but if testing is a feasible option for you, it could be worth pursuing.
Mental health—especially during a pandemic—is crucial to keep an eye on over winter break. While returning home may mean you are reuniting with family, it also means parting from your Brandeis friends, which may feel isolating. But as we’ve all learned over the past few months, there are many virtual ways to stay connected with friends, even if you’re scattered across the country, or the world. Keeping in contact with friends throughout the rest of the semester and the extended winter break is essential for some students to maintain their mental health. Having weekly, or bi-weekly, Zoom calls with friends gives you the chance to connect with people outside of your immediate household and allows you to stay connected, even if you’re far apart.
Hanging out with friends in person either outside or inside with social distancing can be very effective for seeing friends in real life. And if you’re concerned about your mental health, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Therapists are there to help and understand you and they can work with you to alleviate feelings of stress, loneliness or depression.
On-campus students may feel uneasy about traveling back home and that’s completely reasonable. It’s scary to think about being in a confined space with others, such as a bus or plane. The ever-present uncertainty about whether we will be returning in late January like we’re supposed to is also daunting. Things have seemed relatively normal for the last few months, and it felt good. It can be scary to return to isolation and not know for certain what the next couple of months will look like. Those thoughts and feelings are all worrisome, but they are also completely warranted. And no matter what you are feeling over this break, know that it is important and valid. Leaving the Brandeis bubble won’t be easy, emotionally or physically, but hopefully it won’t be long until we’re back under our dome.