The responsibility we share to keep our university community safe is our primary duty this fall. Practicing safe habits and following all COVID-19 guidelines is essential. Due to the many new faces that enter Lane County with fall term, everyone is uniquely accountable for the health of countless people. The spread of COVID, while inevitable, can be controlled and contained with our participation.

So, how do we do it? The first thing to remember is social distancing (as we know, that means at least six feet). Especially while on campus, it can be painfully tempting to meet with many old friends who are back in town. Let’s be clear: parties are not the move, but with some modifications to our social lives, we can still see those we care about. Socially distanced and mask-worn (outdoor is a bonus!) gatherings allow for the in-person connection we crave but significantly lessen the risk of spreading the coronavirus. 

However, before you consider participating in distanced gatherings it’s essential to monitor your own health. Don’t lie to yourself or brush off any symptoms. Any fatigue, fever, chills, cough, or sore throat may distinguish an infection of COVID-19. A sudden loss of smell or taste are also strong indicators that you may be infected. Stay home if you have any symptoms or suspicions you may be sick. 

We’ve done a great job at wearing masks but don’t forget about washing your hands (for 20 seconds or more), cleaning your face coverings and diligently monitoring who and what you come into contact with. The university has several extra hand washing locations on campus to ensure cleanliness.

Campus is open! It’s always best to stay home if at all possible, but there are facilities available for those moments where you need them. Locations like campus libraries, the EMU, the Rec Center, dining halls, and several other buildings are accessible. Most buildings require a student ID for entrance, but take advantage of the resources still made available. Check out your department’s hall for reservations on rooms and labs. Peek at the Covid Building Status Map on the UO website for an updated and interactive map of operating buildings. The Rec has done a great job at altering the layout of their machines and providing regulations that avoid crowded and unsanitary spaces. 

If you’re looking to workout but would rather do it outdoors, all the fields just outside the Rec are now open. After quite a few seasons of construction on Hayward field, the grass is finally available. There you can toss the frisbee, play a bit of soccer, or maybe practice your ball throwing – also wedged amongst those fields is an outdoor track. 

Fortunately, the University of Oregon is prepared to help students with any questions or concerns regarding COVID-19. If you suspect you have become infected, just call University Health Services at 541-346-2770 and you will be assessed before coming into the Health Services building. There, you can be screened if necessary and receive the information you need to keep yourself and others as safe as possible.

Stepping onto campus is a privilege we all must work diligently to maintain. There are unique pleasures offered from the UO that can still be enjoyed, just with a bit more caution. It’s crucial to remember how we interact with others off campus will determine how thousands of others experience this term.