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Returning Back to School Amidst Covid-19

A few days ago, I packed up my belongings and moved into my new home just 5 minutes away from the University of Southern California campus, where I am attending my senior year of college studying Communications and Technology Commercialization. I had signed my lease for the house months prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, back when life was normal. My seven roommates and I had made the decision to return back to USC regardless of the fact that our entire education would be instructed via Zoom. Even though we could have potentially found a way out of our leases and completed our senior year of college from our homes, we made the decision to return to USC in order to make our soon-to-be-over college experience as normal and enjoyable as possible. Many of us hadn’t seen each other since we left for abroad last spring, which unfortunately was cut extremely short due to COVID, and that was not how we wanted to wrap up our college careers.

Although coming back to school and living with my friends will make Senior year feel a little more like regular college, as opposed to completing my classes in my childhood bedroom, it is still nowhere near normal. My sorority house, which usually provides members with food, housing, and great places to study, is now completely shut down. This was decided just two weeks prior to school beginning, leaving many sisters without a place to live. Since all campus facilities are also shut down, along with indoor coffee shops and restaurants, there are few places for students to study or participate in their Zoom classes aside from wherever they currently live. Luckily for me, this is doable considering I have my own room with a desk and a strong wifi signal. Some of my friends, however, share a room with 2 or even 3 other people, making it rather difficult to focus and participate in their classes.

In regards to our social lives, obviously, they are drastically incomparable to the pre-Covid era. There will be no game days, parties, formals, or large gatherings of any sort. You can no longer eat at the dining hall or sorority house with all of your friends. You can no longer collaborate in person with people in your classes to study or work on projects. Even though I am living off campus, USC security is still strongly enforcing these social-distancing rules. The consequences of failure to comply include suspension and expulsion from the university. However, after only three days of being back near campus, USC students have already recklessly ignored these mandates and have continued to attend parties without engaging in social distancing or wearing masks. In response, USC has further reached out to the community to remind everyone of the consequences they will face if they continue to ignore the rules.

The first week of school is not even over and some of my acquaintances have already tested positive themselves or have been exposed to somebody that has Covid. When discussing with my friends about Covid, most of them agree that they aren’t too worried about getting it and neither are the people they have been in physical contact with. They don’t understand why it is so problematic to hangout with friends inside and without masks when we are all young and healthy. In fact, many say they would be fine with getting Covid because it would mean immunity for a couple of months. Unfortunately, while students will most likely cause a spike in the USC area of South Central L.A due to their negligence and selfishness, they aren’t the ones who are going to bear the brunt of it. It will be the locals who are mostly lower class people of color, many of whom are over the age of 60 or have underlying health conditions.

While I want to have as fun and normal of a senior year as I possibly can amidst a global pandemic, I am struggling to find a happy medium. We must all remember that just because we may not personally be concerned about getting Covid, it is not fair to put the rest of our community at risk of contracting the deadly virus. if we fail to comply with social distancing rules, there is a reduced likelihood of having a normal semester and life in the spring. I am curious to see how USC and other schools react to skyrocketing cases and continuous instances of students failing to comply with social distancing measures. I am also curious how much my learning and education experience will be impacted by remote learning.


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