Nearly two years after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States, Pacific University’s community continues to grapple with the impact of the virus. Now, Pacific’s community, which reports a vaccination rate over 95%, is face-to-face with the question of what life after COVID-19 looks like.
There have been nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the fall 2021 semester. With about 1,746 undergraduate students, six members of the Pacific community tested positive this term. This is compared to 110 cases of COVID-19 at Portland State University and 261 at Lewis and Clark College.
Assistant Professor of Public HealthRebecca Schoontakes on the issue of COVID-19 through a public health perspective. As a professor of Public Health, her classrooms deal with COVID-19 through that lens, which she says has a unique effect on her students.
“It’s the primary force that’s shaping their lives right now,” Schoon said in reference to the ways students engage with COVID-19 in the academic realm.
She stated that, for that reason, many students are hungry to learn more about the virus that has upended the lives they once knew. According to Schoon, several students are approaching the COVID-19 pandemic with an academic curiosity.
In the upcoming spring semester, students can expect to see a Public Health class dealing explicitly with COVID-19 on the roster. According to Schoon, “Next semester we’re designing, with another instructor, an entire class on the history and origins of COVID, how public health can best address it, and what are the future implications.”
Freshman Maddie Vandehey said, “The student population in general is doing a good job.” She added that she feels the administration is “informative” and handles any deviance from mask regulations with “polite reminders.”
The way Pacific deals with the current climate in regards to COVID-19 filters down from the administration and into individual departments. The athletics department is no longer requiring student athletes to get frequent tests for COVID-19, but still encourages athletes to be safe in their personal lives.
Senior Kristin Pilgrim said in regards to how the athletic department is dealing with COVID-19 as restrictions loosen, “We’re still very encouraged by coaches and staff to keep small circles.”
For more information on Pacific’s updated COVID-19 cases, protocols, and resources, visit www.pacificu.edu/covid-19. — Kyla Wilson