As anyone reading this article would know, Manhattan College students were sent home in March to complete courses remotely due to COVID-19. However, campus was reopened for the fall semester and many students chose to go back; I was not one of them.
Call me overly precautious, but I made the decision to stay home during the fall semester and begin my sophomore year online. I’m not immunocompromised or someone that contracts illness easily; in fact, I’m pretty healthy and I have very little reason to feel that I would test positive for COVID-19 assuming I am careful. My physical health had nothing to do with it– my mental health did.
As the anxiety-ridden daughter of people in the high-risk category, there was no convincing me that going back to school in August would be a smart idea. I was terrified that the in-person semester wouldn’t last and we’d be sent home again. Then, I would not only have to move out early, but I would risk bringing COVID-19 back home. Another fear I had was that I would get COVID-19 myself– even though the odds of that were slim– and I’d end up having to find a place to quarantine. The school wasn’t very clear about the plans for students who tested positive, so I really didn’t know what would happen to me if I got sick.
So, I stayed home and barely left. I had one friend I consistently hung out with, both of us wearing masks and avoiding any other people we may come into contact with. I went into the public a handful of times and only took my mask off when I was with my parents. I didn’t even go mask-less around my siblings, who do not live with us anymore. My baby nephew, who was born in the midst of the pandemic, has never truly seen me smile at him.
After Manhattan had a decent semester with the majority of the student body consistently testing negative, I decided that Spring 2021 would be the time to return to the place where I planned to spend four years. Trust me, I wanted to come back sooner; all I could think about this past fall was how badly I wished I could walk around the quadrangle after a long day, hear the bells chime above the chapel and sit in real classrooms instead of my childhood bedroom. But again, I was scared, like so many other remote students were.
There are reasons for me to believe that I am making the right decision by returning to campus– Jaspers are wearing masks. There have been very few cases on campus considering the amount other schools have seen, and professors have made themselves available to help students get through this emotionally difficult time. I am confident that Manhattan College is safe.
Like I said, my anxiety got in the way last semester, and while I’m not letting it get the best of me I still have to deal with it. I have not been in Riverdale or amongst the public in a long time– sometimes I find myself unable to remember the names of the buildings on campus or the route from my new dorm to my favorite deli. I just hope that the campus I’m returning to, though different, will have the sense of familiarity I’ve always loved about it.
If you have any questions about this article, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] or on Instagram @jilleenbarrett.