Is it okay to feel normal again?

Students voice their opinions about their level of comfort regarding COVID on campus

Jaguars discuss what their comfort levels are post-lockdown and if they feel like they can go back to “normal” without masks.

Over the course of two years, we as students, staff, faculties, etc., have been going through what is believed to be one of the biggest life-changing events we have all had to face as a whole on campus.

“There were times where I got worried that some of the students were sick and I didn’t want that to spread towards me because I have family to worry about and now my younger siblings,” said Juan Rodriguez, 19, sophomore and undeclared major.

Now although some of us have been doing fine, it’s important to note that COVID and the pandemic in general have given us all a personal belief of what would be the right way to approach COVID.

While exploring and observing around campus, it has caught my attention that a handful of students on-site seem to be comfortable enough to not wear a mask both during class and around campus.

This inspired me to further investigate if students trust each other enough to be responsible and maintain safety measures as a community here on campus.

There’s certain individuals with problems of their own to face, and every individual is affected through their own unique experiences and ongoing current circumstances.

At the moment, this is what led me to take out a sheet of paper and start an anonymous survey for students to participate. I had students either check marks under one of the two individual sections. which in this case the two individual categories contain either yes or no.

The results were collected within a time period of over five days from Oct 26 through Oct. 30.

Over 45 students participated in this mini survey. The results were collected anonymously.

Ultimately, an estimated 60 percent of respondents expressed concern regarding other students potentially attending class while feeling ill.

Additionally I spoke with three students who didn’t participate in the survey.

One of the students felt comfortable enough to share his honest perspective on the mix of people wearing verses not wearing a mask.

“I believe that people should care enough not to come while sick and be smart enough to know when they are sick,” said David Gilron Lopez, 19, sophomore and psychology major. “But I do believe people don’t care enough sometimes and that creates a risk.“

After speaking to Lopez, it became clear that every individual is affected by their own environment through their own way.

Having the thoughts of COVID in mind is a unique challenge individuals face on their own.

During one of my interviews with a student, I asked the same exact question from my survey to see if I could get some deeper insight into a student’s perception.

“Have you ever been worried about other classmates getting sick while attending classes on campus?”

“At first I did worry because I was afraid of bringing a virus into my house and making my family sick,” said Estefania Lopez Parra, 20, a junior business administration major.

Parra shared that her mother and younger brother have asthma, which led to her being worried about attending classes in-person.

“After I saw that everything was returning to normal, little-by-little, I decided to go to school and just follow the directions to reduce the chances of getting sick,” Parra said. “I think now I’m not as worried as I used to be.”

Now it’s post-pandemic. Beforehand, everyone during the pandemic must have wondered how things were going to come back to normal.

“The first class I attended I thought there were [sic] gonna be more student in the class but it was a size of a high school class instead and that made my experience more comfortable because it reminded me of a high school like system and it got me used to college, “ Lopez said.

Now with the present time we are living and experiencing, it’s caught my attention that some of the classes here at SJCC are either really full, half empty or not available due to low enrollment.

I asked one student for his opinion of whether or not he is experiencing any effects due to the amount of students in his classes.

“I do wish in some of my classes there were a couple more students, but for the most part, I see the amount OK,” said Juan Rodriguez, 19, sophomore and undeclared major.

After some more investigation, I was able to have two students open up their personal thoughts and was given a genuine answer regarding if they personally take any precautions for face-to-face contact here on campus.

“The truth is that there are days that I take precautions, without thinking about it, it has become a habit for me,” Parra said. “I also feel like it has become normal for me to wear a mask all the time and when I forget to put it on, I feel weird.”

The thoughts of COVID are scary and sometimes we can’t control the things around us. But let’s not forget that we are still humans and must understand how everything about the virus is unpredictable and if we choose to panic it will only strike more fear within ourselves.

“There are times where I do avoid getting into direct contact face-to-face but I don’t take an extra step to avoid it if someone comes up to me, I won’t stop away or anything but if I don’t wanna be confronted with, I’m one step away,” Rodriguez said.

Students on campus may acknowledge that COVID protocols are still in-demand but each individual seems to have additional protocols of their own.

“I take additional measures to avoid getting sick on-campus,” Parra said. “I try not to be so close to someone, I try to keep my mask on all the time and take it off only when I’m home, and I also use alcohol wipes to disinfect everything before and after.”

At this point it shouldn’t be far-fetched to assume some students on-campus already built a habit of being naturally inclined to protocols.

According to the students’ interviews, each and every individual has a unique set of boundaries of their own.

Towards the end of the investigation, a specific statement caught my attention. Out of the three students that were interviewed, only one was able to affirm that even though others feel differently, it’s always good to keep a positive demeanor despite how other students and colleagues feel about having interactions.

I asked students on a scale of 1 to 5 how comfortable they felt with having to interact and work with other students you haven’t seen in class before.

“So far, working in groups with other students hasn’t been uncomfortable,” Rodriguez said. “I will scale it around four out of five because there were times where some of our schedules didn’t line up and some of us have different opinions, but overall I felt pretty comfortable.”
The sense of precaution from students here at the SJCC campus became more evident based on mutual respect alone.

At the end of the day it’s nobody’s fault because COVID has taught everyone to keep our distances and take inconsideration with who we choose to have face-to-face contact with.

Ultimately, one step and one day at a time and everything will be normalized into an entirely worry free community once more.

Regardless, if a mask is desirable simply make sure you don’t attend school knowing you are feeling ill.

It takes us as a whole community to come together to share a form of unity and mutual respect towards every single individual. Everyone has their own individual health status, therefore it’s a good idea to set boundaries of our own when it comes to being health conscious towards one another.

Remember students to always stay sanitized and in case you want to obtain a mask on campus check out the Business Education building towards the end of the hallway next to the vending machine that is selling Scantron and other school supplies.

Use the SJCC campus map to find the Business building.