OnFocus – Marshfield High School alumna Lilly O’Brien is currently attending UW-Madison, scheduled to graduate in December with a major in Biochemistry with a Global Health minor. As COVID-19 spreads throughout the campus, she shared her experience with OnFocus.
“At this point, virtually every student personally knows someone who has COVID,” she said. “This has created an atmosphere of heightened anxiety around whether you’ll be the next one to get and spread it.”
Currently, the university has suspended all in-person classes for two weeks, along with all in-person student organization meetings. They’ve also closed the on campus libraries and gyms, and have restricted dining halls to take-out only.
O’Brien said that while only 2 of the 21 residence halls are under lockdown currently, they are the two biggest dorms by far.
“There has been mandatory testing for all dorm residents, as well as a new fraternity and sorority testing requirement,” she said. “I am working for UHS (University Health Services) as a COVID-19 tester, so it has been really interesting to see some of the behind the scenes efforts with that.”
She said that university staff coordinating all the testing and the protocols overall have been very verbal, communicating in real-time as decisions are finalized.
“Everything is extremely dynamic right now, so I feel that most people on-campus are learning to deal with the new levels of flexibility that are required of them,” she said. “The situation is obviously not ideal for anyone, so I am trying to approach every new email containing change of plans with empathy for both the university staff that are making these decisions and the students, especially those living in dorms, that are so heavily impacted by them.”
Though hard to make long-term plans amidst the uncertainty, students are making the most of their college experience and turning to campus leadership for guidance.
“I’m honestly trying not to make hopes for too far in the future right now, just because I have no control over the outcomes,” said O’Brien. “The most I can do is just trust those who are leading us to make the best decisions for the most amount of people, given the information in front of them.”
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