In 2022—after two years of a global pandemic, three years of college, the death of a monarch and never testing positive for COVID-19—it finally happened. I tested positive for COVID-19 and my perspective has changed in the short time since then. I am writing this article hoping my story will remind others to remain vigilant.
When the pandemic started and we were quarantined at home, life was basically canceled for several months. As a college freshman, I was crushed by the news of being sent home early, leaving my new friends and all the clubs I had joined. I was fortunate enough to go home and quarantine with everyone I loved. When life returned to somewhat normal the following school year, I was adamant about wearing my mask and keeping my distance. I felt safe despite the potential exposure I faced daily just by coming to class. By junior year, it became even more relaxed. After vaccinations and drops in the infection rate of college-aged students, I felt the normalcy I had longed for. I let my guard down.
It only took a rudimentary understanding of this disease to know that at some point, my friends, loved ones and—even scarier—I would test positive. I lived in great fear of this day and yet, when it came, I felt some relief.
No longer was I a “super-dodger”—I was now just one of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic. But why am I writing this? We already know COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere and nothing can be done to stop it.
I will not tell you to avoid people, skip the tailgates or return to total isolation as a prevention method for COVID-19. But I wanted to share some insights for when you do test positive. This year, the College has returned to pre-COVID-19 procedures, and the Students Health Center no longer provides notes excusing students from class. This responsibility is left to the (already sick) student.
Following the initial email you have to send to notify your professors, you will probably have to send several other emails asking professors for zoom links, to catch up on homework, or make sure that your absences are excused. This year, professors are not required to provide Zoom accommodation to students for a COVID-19-related issue. Even so, you may be out of luck in joining a class on Zoom because several of the classrooms do not have Zoom boards installed. Overall, this tough situation is even more frustrating for students who just want to be in class by whatever means necessary.
Well, incredibly frustrating. This is the ordeal I have faced this semester after testing positive. I would hate for someone else to not know this is the circumstances this year. With better planning and information, I feel it may be less stressful for a student when they test positive.
As a reminder, ensure that you remain vigilant to COVID-19, get tested frequently, wear a mask if you’re going to large gatherings, if you’re vaccinated, make sure you’re up-to-date on your booster, and most importantly, remember that we are all human. Mistakes happen; COVID-19 unfortunately happens, don’t be too hard on yourself or others. Testing positive for COVID-19 in the second full year was far less scary than had I tested positive in 2020. It no longer feels like people blame you for testing positive the way they did. Instead, many people will relate to you, will search for reasons to tell you they also have tested positive in the past, and most people offer advice and help in any way they can. It was so refreshing to know that I was not alone.
I felt it necessary that I remind everyone of this ongoing pandemic. My experience is not unique; thousands more people have tested positive since I did just a short time ago. COVID-19 is a part of our daily lives and will be for a long time.
By Rachel Van Horne, Associate Editor