COVID-19 continues to impact Tarleton community

BY SIERRA WELLS/Managing Editor

With the presence of the new Omicron Covid variant, the future of Tarleton State University and universities throughout the country remains unknown.

Senior Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic Administration Dr. Jordan Barkley offers advice for students who remain on campus.

“First and foremost, I recommend that everyone remain vigilant. We’ve now lived with some named version of COVID-19 since December of 2019. While it may be tempting to settle back into pre-pandemic behavior, the CDC continues to encourage us to wear face coverings, wash hands and use hand sanitizer, monitor for symptoms, test regularly, explore vaccine/booster possibilities with healthcare providers, etc,” Barkley said. ”I strongly encourage students, staff and faculty to test either on campus or through a local healthcare provider if they believe they have been exposed or are symptomatic; use the university’s reporting feature if they are COVID-19 positive; stay home if they are feeling ill; wear a face covering when it is not possible to avoid crowds; explore the vaccine and booster if medically advised and consider the part we all play in the welfare of those around us.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that the Omicron variant, which was discovered in November 2021, is far more contagious than the initial virus. According to Mayo Clinic, as of Jan. 14, Texas has had 5,381,989 cases of COVID-19 in total. The Texas Department of State Health Services reports that 16,700,297 people in Texas are fully vaccinated through Jan. 15.

According to Barkley, Tarleton professors will continue to document class attendance in order to locate those who have been exposed to the virus. In addition, students are not required to wear face masks on campus or to classes.

Junior Morgan Peugh chooses to wear her mask on campus and worries about Tarleton’s lack of a mask mandate.

“I understand a lot of people have their own different beliefs about the mask. A lot of it’s become politicized, but I believe masks should be mandated. Like, I know that a lot of people have strong immune systems, but you can still get it and pass it on even if you have a strong immune system because you may not feel it, but you can pass it, so I would just suggest, the masks are for other people’s safety not your own,” Peugh said. “Like, I wear my mask to protect my family, and I just think that for the safety of others you should wear a mask just to be polite, just to be a decent human being.”

However, there have been changes to certain safety protocols since the Omicron variant appeared in society. According to the CDC website, individuals that test positive for Covid or are exposed now only have to quarantine for a period of five days.

Currently, Tarleton continues to offer in-person classes, but according to Barkley, this education format is not guaranteed.

He said, “As an institution, we reserve the right to pivot quickly to remote learning modalities should the need arise. Please know that any decision to do so will be based on guidance from university, system and state leadership as well as guidance from local healthcare authorities. We continue to monitor the effects of COVID-19 daily.”

Junior Hope Rasberry appreciates that classes have not been moved to online this semester.

“I was a freshman in Missouri when Covid started, and I know that I went through a whole year of online school, like a year and a half of online, and I know that was probably the darkest time in my life because I was very lonely. I didn’t have that social aspect that you get with being on campus because I love being on campus,” Rasberry said. “I love this school, but I know that if we were to go fully online, I know that a lot of people would suffer. Not only physical health with Covid, but mentally, I know that so many people that I have talked to that had to go through the same thing, it was a very dark period, so it’s kind of like a double-edged sword almost. You’re being safer, and you know that you’re taking as many precautions as you can, but on the other side you’re suffering.”

Tarleton’s Roadmap reports that Tarleton has had 1,874 reported COVID-19 cases in total as of Jan. 11.

Though Covid is still a looming threat to people throughout the world, Tarleton students and faculty are taking active steps to secure the future of the university.

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