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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

As we return back to campus, I thought to myself, will things ever be the same again? Spring break of 2020 was when everyone went home but never came back to campus. While there have been students on campus since the start of the pandemic, there has been a noticeable decline of students on campus until this semester. As I only have a couple of classes in person, I rarely go to campus. However, I have noticed large groups of students traveling in packs around Monroe Park like I used to. Everything seems like it’s returning to normal, but I feel like it will never be the same.

While 97.4% of students and 89% of staff are fully compliant with the vaccinations and testing requirements, it still occurs to me how we live on a campus in the middle of the city. We cannot assume that everyone walking around is vaccinated or testing regularly. In fact, only 51.3% of the Richmond population has at least one dose and the positive test rate is 13%. Furthermore, the Intensive Care Unit is almost fully occupied at 94% with nine COVID-19 patients, which means there will be not enough beds if there is another spike. All of these factors make Richmond a very high risk area. However, I still have noticed a handful of individuals walking around without taking the precautions we did before. The other day, I even saw concerts and movies being in Monroe Park to seas of people, courtesy to VCU.

While there are three different waves of COVID, some have predicted that we will enter a fourth wave due to the delta variant. I feel like a fourth wave could send everyone back home like it was before, especially those living in dorms. While this surge would mainly affect those who are not vaccinated, those who are vaccinated can still get sick. VCU has made sure that we all wear masks while in public spaces by implementing employees to enforce safety measures. However, I do not think this is normal or will return to normal anytime soon. As sad as I am to say it, I do not believe that this will be over until after I graduate. 

I only believe that because VCU cannot control where students go outside of campus and enforce mask rules. For example, the Kroger on Lombardy is a place where most students go to get groceries, yet it does not enforce the use of masks. Furthermore, Kroger does not ask for proof of vaccination if you are not wearing a mask. Therefore, the transmission of mutated variants is more likely. While the use of daily health surveys and a handful of other resources, I hope that the transmission between students is minimal. 

In addition, there are also a handful of people who do not trust masks or the vaccine and refuse to do either, which makes it increasingly difficult to create a herd immunity. Without a herd immunity, I feel like it would be nearly impossible to make things normal again.

Kaitlyn Austin is a senior majoring in Political Science with a concentration in Civil Rights. She is always in the library doing homework with her friends.
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