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Drake begins Spring semester amid Omicron

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With Drake University students slowly returning to campus, fear has arrived surrounding the latest variant of COVID-19 being more contagious than others. 

Omicron is a new variant of COVID-19 with the first case confirmed on Dec.1, 2021, in the United States. Guidelines have been changing to account for this new outbreak. 

The CDC recently updated and shortened the recommended isolation and quarantine period for those infected with COVID-19. Now people infected with COVID-19 are instructed to isolate themselves for five days. If they are asymptomatic or are without a fever for 24 hours, they do not have to isolate but must wear a mask for five days when around others. 

COVID-19 has affected many students’ holiday breaks, J-Terms and now the first two weeks of classes. Drake officially made the announcement to make the first two weeks of classes virtual on Jan. 11, 2022, affecting many students’ travels back to campus. 

Tori Oliver, a sophomore majoring in marketing and advertising with a minor in graphic design, said she is not worried about heading back to campus since she recently had COVID-19. 

“I’m not necessarily nervous heading back to campus since I did just have COVID so recently, but the rising number of cases is definitely something that’s been on my mind lately,” Oliver said. “I’m just hoping that everyone does their part in helping to protect one another so that we can stay in person. So far, online classes have been a lot of my college experience, and if possible, I’d like to avoid spending any more time online than needed.”

However, many have concerns about the rising cases within Polk County and what this means for the approaching in-person learning. 

“I think that with everything going back to in-person, the cases are going to rise, especially with the new Omicron variant being highly contagious even through vaccinated people,” Chenoa Nicholson, a junior studying graphic design with a minor in magazine media, said. “People will come [to classes] sick, and being sick with something like a sinus infection is a lot different than COVID. I think [COVID-19 cases] may not get quite as high as they have before, as people are trying to catch it quickly and some of us are still extremely cautious even with all the safety measures as it’s scarier for some more than others.” 

According to an email from Drake sent Jan. 28, there are currently 18 students with confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus and in isolation, 24 students have confirmed cases off-campus and there are 42 students in quarantine total. 

“Just wear a mask please, vaccinated or not, it protects others from COVID and a host of other illnesses,” Nicholson said. “Don’t be that person who gets everyone and their loved ones sick or hospitalized. You have no idea how it will affect certain people. We are semi-back to normal, but this will keep happening badly for another two, three or even four years if we don’t take care. It’s already an epidemic so we must live with it. Don’t make it worse.”

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