Take Care: what to do as the semester ends

After weeks of quarantines and stay-at-home orders, things might seem (relatively) hopeful for the summer. There’s vaccine progress, social distancing has helped save lives and it seems that the coronavirus has peaked in various countries. And while it might seem like a great time to begin returning to normal — whatever that means — the push for some states to reopen is certainly worrisome. What about future peaks? Shouldn’t we focus on containing the virus rather than starting to reopen businesses and exposing more people?

Until there’s a vaccine that’s widely available or the virus has been completely eradicated, there’s simply no reason to put yourself under any more stress than you’re already feeling. It’s a genuinely terrifying time for everyone; don’t make it worse on yourself by feeling pressured to pretend as if everything’s going to be normal again.

This doesn’t mean that the summer is ruined. In fact, we can continue to adhere to our routines for disinfecting our clothes, our belongings and ourselves and still have a great summer. Some of the best replacements for favorite summer activities include going on long drives (windows down, music up, Lady Gaga’s “Stupid Love” on repeat), hosting wine tastings (over Zoom or with the people you live with), going on bike rides or walks, playing online games or board games (again, over Zoom or with the people you live with) and cooking new and exciting recipes.

But as restrictions cease, it’s inevitable that we all will begin to go out more. So, do your part to keep the virus from spreading. Keep a distance from people, wear a mask and disinfect everything.

For Tufts students who are struggling to finish this semester online, the idea of reopening businesses this summer seems hopeful — could that mean that the fall semester won’t be online, as so many of us fear it will be? The prospect of a possible virtual fall semester is bleak and discouraging. There are plenty of ways around an entirely online fall semester (some classes online; a half-virtual, half-on campus semester; strict social distancing guidelines), but the best way to ensure more hopeful solutions for an in-person fall semester might be to continue social distancing.

In the coming weeks, it might be wise for all Tufts students to think about how their professors handled this transition to online classes. Did they decrease the number of assignments and cancel any major exams and projects? Did they provide consistent grade updates so that you could make an educational decision regarding the Exceptional Pass/Fail option? We’re allowed to be angry that this transition was stressful and exhausting. And we should hold our professors accountable — if a certain professor continued this semester as if it were “business as usual” or made the class more difficult, it’s important to question their empathy and ability to read the room.

And as the semester ends, take care of yourself. Don’t hold yourself to the same standards as you would for an in-person semester. The fact that anyone is actually finishing this semester and submitting their work is commendable and impressive. It’s practically impossible to be productive in the middle of a global health crisis — and studying for a final exam at your family’s dining room table is completely different from studying in a quiet corner of Tisch Library. Celebrate your small victories.


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