Students returned to in-person classes on Monday, September 14 to a vastly different campus than the one they left. In the months since the COVID-19 pandemic began the university faculty and staff have spent many hours creating a comprehensive re-opening plan. All of this planning, which has resulted in classes moving to larger conference rooms, six foot taped squares surrounding desks and hand sanitizer buckets in each classroom, will be moot if students fail to comply with safety guidelines while off campus as well.
The staff of The Blue & Gray Press urges Mary Washington students to think of the whole Fredericksburg community before engaging in unsafe behavior off campus. Several universities around the country have already had to temporarily close again due to students partying or attending events off campus. These universities include James Madison University, the University of North Carolina, and Notre Dame. The New York Times also reports an additional 88,000 cases on university campuses following reopening. Fredericksburg has already seen 518 people test positive for COVID-19. Following social distancing guidelines while downtown is just as important as following the guidelines when on campus.
Restaurants in downtown Fredericksburg are already packed every weekend by individuals ignoring social distancing guidelines and risking their lives in favor of grabbing a meal with friends. With the addition of students returning to the city, the threat of a super spreader event only increases. Going out for a drink with friends is not worth endangering the lives of your immunocompromised peers, professors or family. If students want campus life to ever return to normal they will have to survive these abnormal times for a little bit longer.