Pleasure vs. Safety

Sarah Manderbach '22, Opinion Editor

Dickinson students have just arrived back from fall pause. Usually this tiny break from our academics entails visiting friends, going home, or even traveling to places you normally wouldn’t be able to during classes. I take the opportunity to travel home since I live close to my hometown and take the opportunity to hang out with friends who are at different schools than myself, as I’m sure others do as well.

Unfortunately, this fall pause is much different under the circumstances that the United States finds itself under with the lack of successful attempts to put the coronavirus at bay. States are creating mandates regarding travel outside of the state boundaries. For example, Pennsylvania has a mandate that anyone traveling from a state with a high number of COVID cases self-quarantine for 14 days, according to a CNN travel article updated October 2, 2020. Only a handful of other states have these mandates in place, such as Hawaii, Vermont, Connecticut, and Kansas.

With these mandates now present a challenging factor a good portion of Dickinson’s student populus will have to consider, since the student population covers 38 states according to the college website, as well as 49 countries, where some of those students are stuck on campus. It poses a new threat to the pleasure that usually comes with a break, and is the one chance of escaping school work during the semester. It poses the question of if the relief of an extended weekend is worth the safety risks that a student is putting themselves in contact with in order to travel?

Honestly, I feel like the answer to this question all depends on where exactly the student is traveling. For example, if during fall pause I traveled to Hershey Park, which is an hour from where I am, then I should have nothing extreme to worry about, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be cautious regarding my surroundings and wearing a mask in public (which I’m pretty sure is mandated in locations such as a theme park). 

However, if you’re considering traveling to a state/location with a heavy increase in COVID cases, such as Florida, then I would highly recommend reconsidering your travel plans until cases either decrease or until the pandemic somehow ends. 

Another factor to consider about traveling is the work force if you happen to be working while also doing classes online. Personally, I am working at my hometown job part time while also doing three online classes. I can’t afford to travel anywhere with a high COVID case populus because I would be forced to take two weeks off of my job and, in severe cases, get tested for COVID. My job already had a similar scare in late June because we opened prematurely. Other students, who may be working to pay off their college debt, may not be able to afford the luxury of having to be on unemployment in the case they have to quarantine or get tested. 

In summary, travel during small breaks, or even any time during this pandemic we all find ourselves in, needs to be carefully executed if conducted at all.