In-Person Learning at UC Berkeley in a Covid-19 World

Hello, hello wonderful people! As some of you know or have even experienced, schools and universities across the country are going back to in-person instruction. UC Berkeley is one of those places and, don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally mad at the idea of my college experience returning to some sort of pre-Covid-19 normalcy. However, I feel anxious at the number of people there will be on campus in the coming months, given the amount of Covid-19 variants spreading. It’s disheartening because, in any other circumstance, I would’ve been looking forward to being back on campus. 

Part of me hopes that school districts and university systems, such as the UC, recognize how many lives they’re putting at stake for the sake of some pseudo-normalcy. I can’t help but feel as though everything will relapse soon. Recently, we received an email from the Vice-Chancellor discussing mask instructions, vaccination requirements, and even information about fire season and power outages. The mask instructions say that everyone, regardless of vaccination, needs to wear masks indoors. However, it feels like a band-aid solution to let 40,000+ students back on campus, considering that students are still allowed to return to campus unvaccinated and the Bay Area is expected to experience several power outages and wildfires in the coming months. 

At the expense of sounding too critical, UC Berkeley’s message to students sounds a lot like they’re plotting an institutionalized genocide of students for the sake of receiving federal funds. I feel like that’s also the case for high school districts throughout the Bay Area, such as Oakland Unified or West Contra Costa Unified, who have started in-person learning again too. When it comes to K-12 students, there are many who might not fully understand the importance of wearing masks or maintaining social distance. As a result, to have these kids return to school is dangerous and I question the reasoning behind it. 

UC Berkeley students have seen their Chancellor Carol Christ walking through campus, not wearing a mask. How can we expect our students to follow mask mandates when our own chancellor doesn’t? How realistic are UC Berkeley’s expectations for Covid-19 safety? And as a community, how will we meet our unspoken expectations to keep each other safe? It’s not a coincidence that positive cases have gone up since the start of school, with campus cases being higher than the City of Berkeley, according to UC Berkeley’s Coronavirus website. I might be anxious. I might be overthinking. But, at the end of the day, I’m also being cautious because we still don’t know how in-person instruction will continue to impact communities.

What do you think?
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Yendy Rebollo

Yendy Rebollo

Yendy Rebollo is an independent, low-income, first-generation, undocumented or rather DACA-mented, woman of color navigating higher education at the University of California Berkeley. She has been an independent student since her senior year of high school, when she ran away from her abusive parents. It is in that same year, Yendy became a published writer with Yendy is currently double majoring in Ethnic Studies and Comparative Literature with a Minor in Education. She strives to attend law school as soon as she is finished with her Bachelor’s degree.

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