As summer draws to a close, incoming and returning students face a new school year, bringing new challenges and experiences. While the excitement rises as we come home to campus, many of us are concerned with returning to campus with a new variant spreading rapidly across the state.
As of Aug. 12, 2021, the state of Mississippi has reached new record highs with the COVID-19 virus with 1,490 hospitalized patients, 388 intensive care patients, 264 patients on ventilators.
Mississippi College has announced that the school will require all students, faculty, and staff to wear masks while indoors on campus. MC is following directions from the Mississippi State Department of Health that directs that “masks be worn universally indoors for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. Because of the prevalence of the highly transmissible Delta Variant, masks must be worn in all indoor facilities to mitigate the risk of infection at this time.”
MC is not the only school masking up again and preparing for another round in the pandemic ring. The University of Mississippi, Mississippi State, and the University of Southern Mississippi have all announced that they will also require masks for the new school year.
With this delta variant spreading, it has been proven to have a higher transmission rate than the original disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the delta variant is nearly twice as contagious as the previous variants. The CDC quotes that “the greatest risk of transmission is among unvaccinated people who are much more likely to contract and therefore transmit the virus.” As of Aug. 11, 2021, 691 students submitted proof of vaccination through the MC vaccination reporting portal and are being vetted to ensure eligibility for the program.
When the transmission goes up, everyone’s risk also rises. Now that this is happening, it is important to share this message with each other that this virus is a threat that should be taken seriously by wearing a mask. By masking up, not only are we showing respect and love to our fellow students and teachers, but also to our local community. Despite the feeling of taking a step backwards, we must not give up now, even if this is taking longer than we initially thought it would.
This past year, the campus saw what it was like to live, educate, and minister through a pandemic. We have done it before in drastic measures. While the campus COVID-19 task force is preparing for all outcomes as we enter the fall semester, their goal is ultimately to keep the campus safe.
We as students of MC need to be reclaiming our college experience and enjoying the crazy ride for what it is rather than what we want it to be because often our wants and our needs vary tremendously. We need to trust the experts in their respective fields to express the truth at the most essential times. If we truly want to put an end to this pandemic, we must act — collectively and with a clear understanding of what it will take to do so. The minor inconvenience of wearing a face mask and feeling the prick of the vaccine needle is a small price to pay for everyone’s long-term health and safety.
As we bring you an innovative newspaper for the upcoming year, I hope you will embrace the recent changes alongside us as we embrace the MC family again. Mask up so we can enjoy each other’s company as we learn and continue to build our careers together.