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For weeks, Butler County has hovered on the edge of Level Four Purple, the highest risk level for COVID-19, according to the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. Official state guidance recommends residents at this level leave their homes only for essential supplies and services.
I requested my absentee ballot on Sept. 29. I would’ve voted by mail regardless of the pandemic since I’m so far away from home.
When Miami University President Greg Crawford announced the return of residential students and face-to-face classes in a Sept. 9 email, he started a trend of conflicting messages about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic on Miami’s Oxford campus.
On Wednesday, Oct. 21, Sophia Blatnik and other sophomore architecture majors met virtually with Gretchen Radler, the assistant dean and divisional advisor of the College of Creative Arts, to discuss scheduling for the spring semester.
In a normal year, Miami University welcomes 50,000 prospective students and family members to the Oxford campus for tours and admissions events. This semester, Andrew Boehm, associate director of admissions, said they might not top 2,000.
On Sept. 19, my year got immeasurably better.
On Sept. 30, Victoria Negrón, a senior psychology major, invited Marianna Gay, a junior speech pathology major, into her apartment kitchen. The pair went to work preparing to cook tostones, a twice-fried plantain dish common in Puerto Rico. Satisfied with the setup, Negrón sent out a Zoom link to UNIDOS, Miami University’s Hispanic and Latinx organization.
More than 1,500 Miami students have tested positive for COVID-19 since Aug. 17 — nearly 10% of the total student population. As infections continue to rise, many students have joked about getting infected intentionally in the name of herd immunity. But for the health professionals informing Miami’s response to the pandemic, this trend has dangerous implications for the Oxford community.
With a majority of students now living in Oxford, students and professors alike have had to adapt to a new classroom environment. Even though the university’s active case number has seen a steady decline in the past two weeks, the partial return to classrooms has people worried that trend may be reversed.
The first few weeks of college in your first year are hard. They are even harder for the Class of 2024. But, as always, we eventually find comfort, connection or familiarity somewhere.
Miami University will continue to offer most first-year transition and engagement events online through the fall semester. With in-person classes set to begin Sept. 21, the university will enforce social distancing guidelines and other COVID-19 regulations. To that end, campus events designed to integrate first-years into the Miami community will be held virtually.