As reported this week, most of Truman State University’s faculty and staff have not yet been vaccinated for COVID-19. Simultaneously, most of the decisions surrounding class format in the midst of Kirksville’s notorious winter-advisory warnings have been left on the shoulders of our professors — forcing them to choose between ideal learning conditions and personal safety. So while Truman’s professors continue to be burdened with much of the responsibility and risk of holding in-person classes, they are left unvaccinated and thus, unprotected. As we get closer to Spring Break, the risk of contamination exponentially increases as students plan their vacations, while rarely mindful of the consequences that may befall their educators and community.
There are several faculty members considering moving their in-person classes online for the two weeks after Spring Break, to protect themselves and students from possible contamination. Given the uncertainty regarding students’ safety precautions, this might be a necessary decision for some at-risk professors. In the face of these extra burdens on our faculty, we, The Index Editorial Board, urge our fellow students to make smart Spring Break decisions to minimize the risk to our professors and community upon return to classes March 6.
We express our support of the Truman faculty getting their vaccinations sooner rather than later. As Pre K-12 faculty and staff are included in the Phase 1B Tier 3 of vaccine distribution, we support the request by Truman State University’s American Association of University Professors that higher education faculty and staff be given the same prioritization. With the realities of vaccination distribution in mind, there are some specific actions the student body can take to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.
As for the student body, in order to be mindful and diligent about our week-long break, we suggest students follow the guidelines and advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as University health officials, to maximize their efforts. We encourage students to push aside socially glorified risky behaviors — such as large gatherings, parties and binge drinking — in lieu of taking this break to focus on mental health. Truman is an academically challenging university on an average basis — not to mention the stresses of attending college during a global pandemic — so try taking this week off to mentally recharge and recoup. Sleep in, read a book, binge-watch a TV show, explore your creative side or even learn a new skill. Minimizing individual exposure and limiting travel will not only keep you safe but will also help keep our already-stressed-enough professors from contracting COVID.