Driving up North Sheridan Road, I witnessed a sight I hadn’t seen in over a year: Loyola students traveling in packs, flooding in and out of residence halls and student centers.
I’ve been away from Rogers Park for a while now, taking our year online to live in another neighborhood in the city. I haven’t stepped foot in a Loyola building since I left Baumhart Hall as a sophomore when the university evacuated all it’s students at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
Returning to campus as a senior, I can’t lie and tell you I don’t feel a little jealous of the fresh-faced first-years who can (hopefully) look forward to all four years of their college career sitting in classrooms and mingling in residence halls.
Here’s what I’ll say to you all: enjoy it, cherish it and please don’t ruin it.
Although we got a taste of a post-COVID world when masks were dropped over the summer and large-scale events such as Lollapalooza returned to the city, the Delta variant of the virus has forced us to hit the brakes.
Loyola, the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois have all reinstated indoor masking rules, and for good reason. The city currently averages 435 new cases of COVID-19 per day, with an average of about three deaths per day, according to Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Stories of breakthrough COVID-19 cases infecting the vaccinated seem to multiply each day — that means even though we attend a university with a 98% vaccination rate, we’re all at risk too.
So, take care of one another. Wear your mask, get vaccinated and be mindful of the social situations you put yourself into. Loyola can make all the rules it wants, but if we don’t take the precautions and recommendations seriously as students, they’re worthless.
I want you all to experience the Mundelein stairs for four years, study overlooking the city at Schreiber Center and leave your dorm door open to make friends with the students across the hall. I also really want to walk at graduation. Mask up and stay safe.