College and Covid
I hear people laughing at that dorm party next door.
Me too. Do you want to go join them?
Yes, but I am afraid I will get Covid.
Well, I think we should go and meet other students. Bring a mask.
I don’t know how safe that is…ah, okay.
This could be a dialogue between college roommates at the beginning of the Fall semester. They walk into the party in masks, but most people are not wearing them, so they stick the masks in their pockets and grab a beer. They both test positive a week later, and the virus spreads.
As of September 11th, 594 positive Covid19 cases were reported at San Diego State University. This prompted the end of in-classroom teaching and the encouragement for staff and students to refrain from social gatherings, during the week and on the weekends. The administration told students to stay in their dorms.
Many teens and young adults spent the last 6 months in quarantine, sheltered in place with their parents and younger siblings. They are eager to go away to school, hungry to spread their wings and fly from the parental nest. They want to pursue their scholastic passions and they miss hanging out with friends their own age.
When colleges across the USA opened for the Autumn semester, kids grabbed their gear and moved in or near campus to begin their in-classroom studies. Soon, all over the country reports came of Covid cases increasing on college campuses. Authorities now struggle over whether to quarantine students in their rooms to slow the spread or to send them home to their families and possibly increase the spread in their hometowns.
People of all ages are tired of the unnatural over-confinement of a quarantine environment. We are social beings. We need the spontaneity of three-dimensional contact with other people, who we can laugh and eat and talk and walk with. But it may be harder on young adults (18-24) because of how their brains are wired. The brains of teens are more impulsive than adults. They have strong creative energy. They take risks, not always weighing the consequences. This can make them brave soldiers, who run into danger for the greater good, or make them think outside the box and invent great things. For example, Isaac Newton, fleeing the bubonic plague, was 22 years old when he invented the calculus and discovered the universal law of gravity. However, decision making in terms of being prudent or more cautious does not mature in the human brain until 25-28 years of age.
If one thing is clear, the recent research shows that in-classroom college courses and big parties are Superspreader events. Attendees can contract the disease, and even if they remain asymptomatic, can then spread the virus to vulnerable others. I think it should be up to the administration in college settings to heed the scientific facts about how Covid spreads and take steps to create policy that protects the young adults in their care.