The pandemic that some believe to be over continues on, and despite fears of COVID-19 spreading around West Campus, students and fans have continued to gather in large numbers before and after attending football games.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the student body and within the UT community, students must follow COVID-19 guidelines within the stadium and self-isolate after attending football games.
Currently, students are advised to wear masks during the game and within the stadium, but that has not stopped students and fans from removing their masks in the stands or outside in the vicinity of the stadium.
The lack of compliance with COVID-19 protocols from the students that attend games is frustrating to those that have consistently been following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and have continued to self-quarantine or live cautiously.
“I believe that UT should have never opened up football games to the public,” government junior Emiliano Villarreal said. “And although I do believe that having some students get tested before being able to attend games is a good idea, it isn’t enough since the same students that are selfish enough to go to games in the first place are the same kids that will go out and party in groups of 10 plus people the night before the game.”
If students insist on going to games, they should abide by the proper mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines within the stadium, so other community members don’t pay the price for their poor choices. Students must also take on the responsibility of self-isolating following any exposure to such large crowds.
Jaquelin Dudley, a professor in the department of molecular biosciences at UT, said she believes that following up a football game with a two-week quarantine would help keep West Campus safe from another outbreak — but that it’s the students’ responsibility to do so.
“From what I’ve read, a lot of times the masks are coming off even though they were on when they first went into the football game,” said Dudley. “You are likely to infect others that are immunocompromised, or UT faculty or staff who haven’t necessarily engaged in risky behavior but to do their jobs, they will be exposed to you.”
After attending a game, students are more than likely to come in contact with surfaces such as door handles and elevator buttons at their apartment complexes or dorms that hundreds of others come into contact with on a daily basis. Restaurants are also a point of risk as students and fans often dine out after attending a game, which heightens the possibility of community spread.
“The likelihood of these students having contracted or passed on the virus to others is high,” Villarreal said. “I personally feel that it is totally unfair to so many of us who have taken this pandemic as seriously as we should.”
If students are willing to risk their own health by going to games, then they must commit to taking the proper precautions to make sure they are not endangering people who are unwilling to take similar risks.
Students must be diligent in following social distancing guidelines before and during games and self-isolation guidelines afterwards.
Not only is this the most responsible route to take, but it is also the most logical solution to keeping COVID-19 contained and preventing another outbreak.
York is a rhetoric and writing junior from Laredo, Texas.