Are COVID mitigations finally slowing down?

Brett Kuras

COVID-19 has had the world in a tight grip for the past two years, with virtually every corner of the globe facing some type of lockdown or restriction on its citizens. Augustana is no different. For the past two years, Augustana has implemented restrictions on students, staff and faculty to prevent the virus from spreading.

These restrictions change over time due to case spikes dropping. Now, as the Omicron variant is slowing down, the college is wondering, just like the rest of the world: Is it over? Can we go back to normal? While most are going to happily greet the end of this pandemic with open arms, opinions differ on what type of mitigations need to happen until we’re given the all-clear. 

Jacob Spicer, a first-year at the college, is ready to move on from mitigations and believes they should be optional.

“I would honestly prefer masks to be optional, people wanna take them off,” Spicer said. “Let people take the risk if they want to.”

Spicer also believes strongly that the school doesn’t promote other ways to stay healthy to make a battle with COVID-19 much less stressful on the body.

“I take vitamins, like zinc and others often to keep my immune system strong,” Spicer said. “I wish the school would promote healthy eating habits, the importance of vitamins and other benefits instead of the same things over and over. I think it could really help.”

Contrasting his opinion, senior Lauren Palmer said she believes that the precautions should stay in place and that the college needs to continue being vigilant when it comes to COVID-19. 

“I think the year has gone well,” Palmer said. “The administration takes it week by week, always keeping the students and staff in mind to make sure they aren’t infected with the virus.”

Chris Beyer, the director of residential life and assistant dean of students, has similar views to Palmer’s. 

“I think we’re taking a very cautious approach when it comes to mitigations here at the college,” Beyer said. “We try to stay as current as we can with the mitigations, whether that be adding more or taking away some. It really depends on the case count at the school, the county and the nation.”

While the college still faces mitigations, Beyer offered some insight of future mitigations being discontinued. 

“While masking will be one of the last mitigations dropped, I can see contact tracing being gone within the next few weeks, granted case counts stay low and a new variant doesn’t appear,” Beyer said.

While opinions vary across the campus, Spicer, Palmer and Beyer all agreed on two things: stay home when feeling ill and continue to get tested.