Opinion - SWOSU, give us Spring Break back!
Updated: Jan 12
By Johannes Becht
It took comparably long for the SWOSU Administration to decide against having traditional Spring Break in the Spring Semester 2021. Prior to SWOSU's announcement, other Oklahoma universities had already announced they would cancel Spring Break in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
For many students, Spring Break is the highlight of their college life. For others, it offers a way to take a break from studying. Right now, many SWOSU students are exhausted and tired from the semester, also because there had not been a Fall Break.
To put it in nice words – canceling Spring Break is a disastrous decision and will not help in any way to slow the spread of COVID-19.
And there is a simple reason for that. By Spring Break, enough SWOSU students would already have had the virus, thereby developing immunity, at least in the overwhelming majority of cases. That also means that they won't be able to infect other people.
Research and calculations by The Southwestern revealed that up to or even more than 250 SWOSU students have been reported positive so far this semester. Not included in this number are those students who got the virus prior to the start of Fall 2020. Not included are those students who didn’t report that they were positive. Not included are negative test results who actually were positive. Not included are all those students who never got tested in the first place, either because they didn’t want to, or because they simply experienced no symptoms.
What makes matters worse: SWOSU itself doesn’t offer testing, and students sometimes would have to pay for being tested in or around Weatherford, though they can contact the Custer County Health Department if they can't afford it, according to Dean of Students Joshua Engels. However, not everyone is willing to do that, and not everyone is willing to take the risk of being quarantined for 14 days.
Result: The official number, 250 students, is likely to be much much higher.
Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said on June 25 that the real number of Americans who've gotten the coronavirus is probably 10 times higher than the agency's official count.
"Our best estimate right now is that for every case that's reported, there actually are 10 other infections," he said.
Later on, CDC estimated that the real number could be between 6 and 24 (!) times higher, depending on the location, the circumstances, the amount of testing, and so on. And... Oklahoma is not famous for testing a lot.
In other words, up to or even more than 2,500 SWOSU students likely had COVID-19. That’s more than 50% of the student body.
And that’s where the so-called herd immunity comes into play. Herd immunity happens when the virus can’t spread because it keeps encountering people who are protected against infection. Or, in other words, the virus can't find enough "victims" anymore.
Usually, herd immunity is a result of wide-scale vaccination program. High levels of vaccination-induced immunity in the population benefits those who can’t receive or sufficiently respond to a vaccine, such as people with bad immune systems.
Most scientists agree that herd immunity occurs when at least two thirds of a specific population is immune. SWOSU has almost reached that number.
After Thanksgiving and over Christmas Break, more students will get COVID-19, as well as during Spring Semester. It is not an exaggeration to assume that by March, more than 80% of SWOSU students will have had COVID-19 at some point. And immunity.
I predict: The number of COVID-19 cases at SWOSU will stay low after the beginning of the new semester. Very low. There won't be any significant spike. COVID-19 won't be a big topic anymore. And sometime during the next year, a vaccine will become available.
So why canceling Spring Break?
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