Opinion: ‘Tis the Season to Social Distance

Anyssa Dang

FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. We have been in a global pandemic quarantine for the past nine months and everyone is itching to return to their pre-pandemic lifestyles. Especially with the holidays coming up, it is very tempting to participate in Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving celebrations, holiday gift exchanges, or even birthday parties that have become annual traditions. But as students in an on-campus cohort, we must understand that in order to attend in-person classes, we have to abide by social distancing guidelines. 

It is important to be cognizant that the pandemic is not over, but, in fact, is only getting worse. Recently, there has been a spike in COVID-19 cases in California, especially in Orange County. While you may feel that it does not make much of a difference, following rules is the best way to help lower COVID cases and limit exposure. If you value in-person learning, wear a mask and keep your distance! I, for one, would not like for campus to have to shut down again and to transition to distance learning for another few weeks because students are not being safe off campus. When we are on campus, we are fairly good at staying away from each other, keeping our masks on, washing our hands, and abiding by general rules. However, learning to continue these vital habits off campus makes a big difference in protecting our community. 

The cliché statement about how everyone is in the same boat only half applies in our current situation. While everyone should wear a mask and social distance, we must also be aware that on top of that, everyone’s family situations are different. There are parts of the population that are at a higher risk for the virus, so it is crucial to follow rules. We come in contact with so many people every day and do not even realize it. In addition, everyone that we come in contact with has previously come in contact with other people. From there, the contact tracing snowballs and forms a limitless slippery slope. While one person exposed may have the virus, another person exposed may not, but it is hard to determine this, especially with false test results and incubation periods. It is also hard to distinguish COVID-19 symptoms from colds or flu-like symptoms. Learning to keep a safe distance away from others is a hard thing to do, but if it can help us flatten the curve, it is worth it. 

Wearing a mask does not just protect you from other people’s germs, but also protects others from your own germs. Our actions impact our local communities as well. In the instances where we decide whether or not to go to a party or large gathering, we risk exposing ourselves as well as exposing others. If you do go somewhere, remember to be safe. It can be hard to do so, especially when everyone else is not following proper guidelines. While you may feel embarrassed to wear a mask and stay outside during a gathering, think about how it benefits yourself and others around you. 

We are very lucky to attend a school that understands and does not self penalize you to self-quarantine if you experience COVID symptoms. It is better to quarantine just in case and take advantage of this grace. How would you feel if someone was seriously incapacitated because you chose that you did not want to disclose that you may have symptoms?

Not reporting COVID-19 symptoms is a selfish way to be. Even if you have flu-like symptoms that may not be Covid, it is important to disclose them so that you do not inadvertently put others at risk. You do not know other people’s situations at home. Some people live with their grandparents or have family members that are immune compromised. You cannot assume that just because you are young and healthy, the person or people that you affect will be young and healthy as well. There are so many possibilities for what could happen, and in reality, it is not worth risking somebody’s life to attend a party or meet up with family and friends. 

Additionally, do not rely solely on a test to assume that you do not have the virus if you have been exposed. COVID-19 has an incubation period of five to fourteen days, so you may get false negative tests before you ever have symptoms. Make sure to pay attention to your body for the greater good of the student body. 

Going to school in person is a gift. There are many schools in our area that are still not open for in-person learning or only open in hybrid learning modalities. We are lucky that Sage Hill has the resources to properly distance students from one another and keep our environment safe and clean. Remind yourself that to continue to attend in-person classes, you need to put in the work. 

The stakes now are higher than ever, so it is important to do your part to keep everyone safe. It is better to be safe than sorry!