NewsStudents express concern about semester during omicron surge

Students express concern about semester during omicron surge

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Students returned to in-person classes last Wednesday, Jan. 19. Combined with the anxiety of classes and assignments, students are again presented with the unknown of Covid-19 and the possibility of some classes transitioning to online.

Since the spring semester of 2020, Southern Miss students, faculty and staff have been battling the uncertainty of COVID-19. 

Due to a campus-wide shutdown then, students and teachers adapted to the online format, hoping to soon return to in-person classes. It was not until the fall semester of 2021 that they would be able to do so, in a limited form.

And with the majority of classes now back to being offered in-person, freshman biology major Kayiana Jasper said that she is concerned about the rising number of cases.

“My main concern is wondering if campus is going to close, if we’re going to switch to virtual or stay face to face, are the cases going to rise, how severe is it going to get and basically will we switch back to virtual learning,” freshman biology major Kayiana Jasper said.

Not only are students facing exposure to COVID-19, but they are also facing exposure to a more contagious strand of the disease. 

The Center for Disease Control reports that the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is rapidly spreading around the United States. Scientists are still figuring out exactly how severe the disease can become but encourage getting a vaccination to ease symptoms if one were to catch the disease.

The Moffitt Health Center (MHC) reported 181 positive tests of COVID-19 from Jan. 2 through Jan. 15 after only reporting 90 total positive cases throughout the entire fall semester.

Moffitt officials said to The Printz last week that current models of the variant will peak in the first week of February. 

During the rise of omicron, Dr. Dee Dee Anderson, the Vice-President of Student Affairs, said she is hoping that students stay safe and healthy.

“We want everyone to stay healthy and we want students to be able to continue to go to class so there is a concern about students missing class and adversely impacting their studies,” Anderson said. 

Lexie Rouse, a sophomore elementary education major, said that she hopes classes can stay in-person and not switch to online.

“Last year, when I started my freshman year, I was completely online, and it definitely took a toll because I had already been out of school for several months. Coming to college, doing it completely online [and] teaching myself was really hard,” Rouse said.

USM is hoping that students comply with their health and safety rules to keep the number of COVID-19 cases down. 

“We’ll continue to ask people to follow our health guidelines—wearing their mask, being vaccinated and boosted if you’re eligible. Try to stay distanced from others and if you’re feeling sick, stay home and get tested,” Anderson said.

Despite the constant worries of COVID-19, Southern Miss students remain optimistic about the rest of the school year as cases are expected to decline after the peak.

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