Op-ed: COVID-19 burnout can coexist with optimism

Op-ed: COVID-19 burnout can coexist with optimism

By Jordan Wehlage

As President Richard Yao announced via a Campus Global alert on Jan. 4, CI has transitioned to primarily virtual instruction for the first two weeks of the spring semester.  The University also moved the deadline for “eligible students, administrators, and confidential employees” to receive a COVID-19 booster from Feb. 28 to Feb. 6. 

These updated policies came in the wake of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant, which the CDC’s website says “will likely spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus.” After a fairly smooth fall semester, few of us anticipated the effects that the Omicron variant would have on our lives in 2022. As we near two years of living under pandemic conditions, it’s easy to feel like there is no end in sight. Along with many other members of our campus community, I am frustrated and tired of the many ways this virus has impacted my personal life and my academic experience. 

There is certainly reason for grief and exhaustion. According to the CDC’s website, over 840,000 people have died due to COVID-19 in the U.S. alone. Countless others have been hospitalized, have lost loved ones or are suffering from symptoms of “long COVID.” Many of us continue working, attending school and trying to imitate normalcy, all while struggling to process the overwhelming implications of this pandemic nightmare. 

CI, if you are angry, if you are frustrated or burnt out, if you feel like this will never end: I hear you. Your emotions are valid, and it is healthy to hold space for yourself to work through the tremendous stress that has afflicted us all since March 2020. Nonetheless, I argue that it is possible to allow your feelings of burnout to coexist with a sense of optimism.  

The last two years have been incredibly difficult, but they have also shown us just how much we are really capable of. In spite of all the challenges, we are here, persisting, whether that be in pursuing our  education at CI, in providing support and instruction to students as a staff or faculty member or in contributing to the vibrant fabric of our campus as members of this community. That alone is worthy of praise and celebration amid the hardships that we are all facing. 

Additionally, as reported in a Ventura County Star article by Tom Kisken, the COVID-19 infection rate in Ventura County is beginning to trend downwards “after cresting the peak of an Omicron surge.” According to Ventura County Public Health officials quoted in that article, although “it’s difficult to predict how quickly the surge will recede…signs in other regions indicate it could happen rapidly,” signaling that better days may lie on the horizon. 

Two weeks of virtual instruction may not be what we envisioned for the start of our spring semester, and disappointment is an understandable reaction. We all have goals and expectations for this semester that probably did not include primarily virtual instruction. Many of us, myself included, are looking forward to graduating this May, crossing our fingers in hopes that the ceremony is able to take place in-person. 

It is for these precise reasons that we should trust the guidance of our campus leadership by exercising caution throughout the predicted surge of cases so that we can all enjoy a healthy return to campus come Feb. 7. Stay safe and get boosted if and when you can, and we look forward to seeing all of you in-person very soon. 

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