COVID-19 restrictions at SU may be lifted, but pandemic anxiety is far from gone

As students return to college this month, there is anxiety in the air about Syracuse University lifting COVID-19 restrictions. While some students may finally have the college experience that has been on hold for two years, we cannot ignore that there are still outbreaks, spreading cases, and the effects of the pandemic. We are not back to normal, we are recovering.

I entered college as a freshman at SU in the fall of 2020 when the university’s COVID-19 restrictions were at their peak. We weren’t allowed to visit our friends in their dorms, our classes were mostly conducted online, and the majority of us had to go through at least a period of isolation.

The group of friends that many students were able to connect with was limited to those on their floor or, for those who had to put up with it, the quarantine “pods”. Many of us had no idea what the bottom half of our friends’ faces looked like for weeks.

Now, after two years, students will return to campus without any restrictions except for a mask mandate on public transportation, per New York State law. However, it is important to recognize that the pandemic remains a fluid situation and that cases persist.

The pandemic has given incoming students an excuse to facilitate social interactions while adjusting to the stress of college classes and newfound independence, so many returning students may be nervous about entering their “normal” first year.

The pandemic has led to increased emotional distress, risk of mental health issues, anxiety levels among students and negatively affected sleep patterns, according to conversation.com. Now more than ever, we need to prioritize our mental health so that we can truly get back to normal. SU students can participate in counseling, group support, and other resources that SU has in place for mental health awareness.

A new, unrestricted social environment can feel overwhelming to anyone after two years of extreme restrictions. Everyone is dealing with the pandemic and its effects in their own way and SU students should keep in mind that we are still recovering.

Now many of us feel the pressure to make the most of the time we have left. We join all the clubs, attend all the events and go to all the parties that we haven’t been able to do under the restrictions, and we feel like a failure if we don’t make a million new friends doing it .

I can’t lie, I envy the incoming class who will have the opportunity to have the freshman experience I dreamed of by committing to SU. Hopefully, unlike us sophomores, juniors and seniors, these students will be able to experience a freshman year undisturbed by COVID-19 or any other outbreak.

It is important to remember that the COVID-19 pandemic has been shared by all students. We’re all excited and relieved to see what a pandemic-free semester looks like, but it’s important to remember that we’re all a little nervous too.

Katherine Cefalo is a junior television, radio and film student. His column appears every two weeks. She can be reached at [email protected].

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