School has started and the first week of spring has come to an end. But things have just started, in more ways than one. It’s hard to believe that COVID-19 has been a constant for the past two years. One of the things that have also been constant is NC State’s lackluster care for students during the pandemic. As many know, new variants have been popping up and spreading like wildfire. With the Omarion variant running rampant throughout the United States, there have been concerns from many about what the UNC System is doing about this. 

To be quite honest with you, it looks like nothing has changed. NC State is still sending performative emails about them and their motto of “Protecting the Pack”. It also doesn’t help that since 1/13/21, we have had over 1,000 people in isolation or in quarantine, both on and off-campus. I was one of many students that tested positive for COVID before classes started. 

All it took was me getting some water, and just having someone I knew dap me up. The next thing I knew, I was getting a text from them telling me they tested positive. After that was the anxiety of waiting for the on-campus testing sites to open. Got tested and found out that same night that I had to get into isolation. The supplies provided for isolation were lackluster and teetering the line of the bare minimum and just not caring. 

During isolation one of the main things that I realized was how much I missed interacting with people. For the first week of class, everything I saw was through a screen. I began to use Facetime religiously, being the only outlet for people. I had to start my first week looking at lecture videos, as some of my professors don’t offer Zoom live streaming access. Luckily I was able to have my absences excused, even though it took more emailing than needed to do so. Seeing news and studies finding newfound long-term effects from COVID or “long COVID” did not help my mental state that first week. Now that I’ve left isolation, I am more on edge than ever about returning to class and being out on campus. 

We haven’t even gotten halfway through the semester and Omarion has already started to spread through the campus. We’re ducking COVID and we haven’t even had midterms yet. “What has the university done about this?”, you may ask. They decided to get rid of contact tracing, that’s what NC State and the UNC School System as a whole have decided to do.

There’s also the issue of isolation/quarantine rooms being able to house the rapidly growing population of students who have positive cases. It seems that NC State no longer has control over the situation. 

“The Provost’s answer is this: We are a part of a system, and we have no autonomy to make choices that diverge from what the UNC System has been pressured to do,” said Meagan Kittle Autry, a teaching assistant professor and director of graduate professional development in civil, construction and environmental engineering, on Twitter. 

As for the dashboard that keeps track of case counts, there is a high chance that NC State will stop counting the positive cases for students.

 Provost stated plainly today, “We will keep the dashboard with case counts, for now. But frankly, [the] UNC System isn’t interested in the numbers. They are no longer relevant”, referring to how contagious but “relatively mild” Omicron is,” stated Autry. This is disappointing, but not surprising considering the track history of NC State’s preventative measures.

NC State faculty have now given up on stopping the spread of COVID, shifting towards how to manage the outbreaks. “Our public health colleagues no longer talk about *if* we are going to get Omicron. We talk about *when* we are going to get it. It’s just that contagious, and it’s everywhere,” replied Autry

The fact that public health workers have started saying that during the first week of classes, is not only disheartening, but it’s also infuriating. Why are we still having professors and admin demand in-person classes? At the very least give students an option for Zoom lectures. It’s the bare minimum and NC State isn’t even doing that. How are we going to get through the semester if we are already talking about “when we’re gonna get it?”, and we literally just started the semester!