The effects of COVID have rippled throughout campus, but they have looked different for every student. For some students, the virus has been a looming threat with little meaning in their lives, but for others, it has changed their life.
Freshman Brooke Loutsch’s uncle contracted COVID from his job at the Tyson Foods plant. He then passed it onto Loutsch’s aunt. Loutsch said the two self-quarantined for a little over two weeks to be on the safe side.
Since the couple is within the age range of people who may suffer harsher consequences from the virus, Loutsch said she was concerned for their safety.
“It really scared me knowing somebody who had it because at that point I didn’t know someone who had it,” Loutsch said. “It was a distant thing that didn’t affect me.”
Freshman Olivia Perli’s mother, Holly Perli, works at Regional Hospital in Rapid City as a nurse educator. However, once COVID started infecting more people, Holly Perli was required to work more as a nurse than as an educator.
“As the virus happened and school started again, it’s been hard for them to keep pushing and working,” Olivia Perli said. “Now people in the hospitals are getting it and they’re understaffed. The public just isn’t treating it as importantly as they should.”
Loutsch also said she is concerned not enough people have taken the pandemic seriously, causing frustration amongst essential workers. The Fareway Loutsch works at posted signs requiring customers wear a mask for entry to follow CDC guidelines.
“There were a lot of people who didn’t listen to (the signs) and felt the need to express their opinions about it towards me,” Loutsch said. “There’s health workers, especially now, wearing a mask for so much longer. What you have to do to buy your bread and eggs at the grocery store isn’t going to hurt you.”
Loutsch said health officials know what’s best for students and she respects their decisions but didn’t want to return to school.
Olivia Perli said she hopes the school has procedures in place to keep families safe if students are sent back home.
“I’m glad that I had at least a few of the experiences that are normal,” Olivia Perli said. “But even teachers are joking about when we’re going to be sent home, so it seems inevitable that this will not be a normal year, maybe not even a normal four years.”
Loutsch said her main concerns are people not wearing their masks properly, unnecessary gatherings and people not being cognizant of other’s lives.
“You have to assume your hands are dirty,” Loutsch said. “Wash them. You have to assume someone here is infected. Wear your mask.”
Throughout everything, both students said they are scared for the future and all the unknown factors of COVID-19. They are taking on school one day at a time.