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COVID-19 and the Fall Semester: How to Stay Safe and Still Have Fun

I hear you – it’s been a tough year and a half, and we’re all ready for things to go back to normal. Unfortunately, with COVID-19 cases increasing nationally and on campus, life can’t completely go back to normal just yet. Here are some tips on how to decrease your chance of getting COVID-19 while still enjoying life.

Get vaccinated

It goes without saying that the best way to stay safe this semester is to get vaccinated. Most students and faculty at UMass Amherst are vaccinated, which is great – vaccines significantly decrease the chance of infection, hospitalization, and death. However, it is still possible for those of us who are vaccinated to become infected and experience symptoms, although they are generally less severe for vaccinated people than those who are unvaccinated.

Get tested regularly

Testing can help limit the spread of COVID-19 on campus and in the community. It’s super easy to get tested. Just go to University Health Services (UHS) or the Campus Center to pick up and drop off your testing kit. UHS is located in Central, behind Frank and Morrill. You can typically get your results within one to two days. Although testing isn’t required for most people, getting tested can give you peace of mind and prevent you from unintentionally spreading COVID-19 to your friends and the community.

Stay outside when possible

It’s best to be social outside to reduce the odds of getting COVID-19. There are plenty of cute restaurants in the area that offer outdoor seating. I highly recommend Esselon Café in Hadley, which is my personal favorite for brunch. Not only is the food delicious, but you can sit outside in a beautiful garden area.

It’s also almost fall, so if you’re looking for a fun afternoon outing, there are plenty of fun and festive things to do, like apple picking! It’s also a great time of year to go on a scenic hike or take a trip to The Big E in Springfield until Oct. 3. Staying outside when hanging out with friends is a great way to stay safe, and you can enjoy the nice weather while it lasts.

Mask up when inside

While it’s good to limit your time indoors in crowded areas, it’s obviously impossible to avoid spending time inside. Wearing a mask when inside is very effective at stopping the spread of COVID-19. Finding a comfortable mask that you don’t mind wearing is key. I personally like masks from Old Navy. They stay in place and are relatively inexpensive, so you can buy several and wash them frequently. Also, don’t forget to make sure your nose is covered by your mask. Wearing your mask properly makes it more effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

None of us want school to switch back to online learning, so it’s important for everyone to do their best to stay safe. Of course, no one expects you to lock yourself in your room and never be within six feet of another human. It’s all about finding a balance between staying safe and still having fun.

By following these four key practices: getting vaccinated, being tested regularly, going outside when possible, and properly wearing a mask, we can all stay as safe as possible while still being social and enjoying our time back on campus.

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Allison Brookhart

U Mass Amherst '23

Ally Brookhart is a senior at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is majoring in biochemistry and is interested how science interacts with society. Ally enjoys exploring new places, reading, working out, and playing volleyball.
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