Everyone has faced tough, personal decisions since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes schools and universities, like the small, private university I attend. Many schools, like mine, are under financial strain, and have decided to risk reopening so that they don’t have to close their doors for good.
Before I read my school’s official fall plan, I was constantly flip-flopping back and forth about whether I should choose to return to school or stay home. I tend to take a long time making decisions, because I struggle with perfectionism and get scared that not making the “right” decision the first time will lead to disaster. This in turn can lead me to use others as a crutch, relying more heavily on advice from family and friends than on my own instincts. However, I knew that this decision was an extremely important one, so I resisted the temptation to seek advice from my friends, and just asked my parents what they thought.
This way, I could concentrate on how I really felt about the idea of going back to school during this pandemic. I used a pros and cons list to outline some of the logistical parts of the decision, but I knew my gut was telling me to stay home. Because I have mild asthma, I know that I might be at-risk of experiencing a worse reaction to COVID-19 than others my age. While making my decision, I thought about how I would feel if I were to go back to school, and I came up with one word: scared. Although I can’t predict the future, I can guess that going back to school would easily trigger my (or anyone’s) anxiety. With my asthma, that scared feeling would likely be constant and not well-managed, since I would be constantly putting myself in a scary situation just by being at school, where I’d be around more people than I am at home. With these factors in mind, the right choice became clear to me, and I decided to stay home and take classes online this semester.
While I will miss my friends, I know that this decision is the best one for my mental (and physical) health. Not having to worry like I would at school that everything I do could lead me to contract the coronavirus will allow me to focus on my schoolwork and maintaining connections with friends, even from a distance. I usually worry that others will question my decisions, but telling some of my friends and neighbors about my decision turned out to be a positive experience. Many of them have expressed their support, and this reinforced my decision, because I know that I have a support network around me that will help check in on me as we all get through this challenging time.
Have you had to make any tough decisions as a result of the pandemic? What are your plans for school if you’re attending? Have you had to make any decisions about school for yourself?