Are We In The Clear? COVID-19 Looms On Campus

Olivia Allery, news editor

The Delta Variant of COVID-19 has been spreading quickly causing infection numbers to take another surge in these past months, and the Twin Cities have not been left out of this. Hennepin and Ramsey counties are experiencing a rise of COVID-19 infections due to the Delta variant. With an infection rate of 189 per 100,000 people, the overall rate of positive tests in the two counties is 5.55%. Despite this uptick in the surrounding counties, Augsburg’s campus is actually quite the opposite. As of September 18th, Augsburg’s campus has only reported positive tests from five students and one staff member, putting the campus’ positivity rate at only 0.50%. 

Augsburg has mandated vaccines for all staff and students physically on campus. Augsburg’s population is sitting at 83% vaccination rate amongst its entire population. Even with this majority of vaccinations, Augsburg is still remaining diligent in mandating masks in indoor spaces for the rest of September. Since an email that was sent out to Augsburg back on August 27th, masks are mandated indoors regardless of vaccination status.

Even with these mandates in place, there still are some mixed feelings and anxieties about being on campus within this second surge of the Delta variant. Reaching out to some staff and students, here are some thoughts they had about coming back to campus. One anonymous faculty member says “I have had some anxiety about being in person and coming back to campus because I want to be back on campus, to see my students and teach in person but I am the primary caregiver to my parents who are very frail and I have to be conscious of that,” they continue to say, “I had to make my decision of having my classes online. It was a very hard decision especially because it was still very early when I had to make it, like back in June, before vaccines were going to be mandated on campus and I had to think of the risk and I did not want my family members getting sick because of that risk.” 

Faculty member Jonathan Brown says, “Personally, my immediate reaction of coming back was excitement, I was excited to see students and be in classroom teaching again. Once the semester was getting closer and coming into the first weeks of class I was a little confused about how to make my class accessible and accommodate changes while still keeping COVIDin mind.” Brown continues, “After some positive tests on campus I had to have more reactive accommodations such as coming into the classroom with a tape measure to make sure we are distancing correctly and having to have an active Zoom meeting while class is happening in-person. I am also unsure if all of these accommodations are even correct to be doing. I am one of the new professors here and there is still a lot of confusion about COVID policies and procedures and where my role as a faculty member fits in.” 

Senior Danny Reinan also mentions their mixed feelings on the in-person school year. “I want to be happy about returning to in-person operations – I’m undeniably more engaged with my classes and the community than I was during the remote format – but I’m feeling a lot of trepidation,” they said, “I want to believe that there’s nothing to worry about since we are all vaccinated and masked, but I find it difficult to share the joy of being back in person with many of those around me since those anxieties are constantly weighing on my mind.” 

It is important for everyone to remain diligent in our COVID precautions. We are slowly but surely moving towards normalcy and don’t want to jeopardize our progress.