Students with children remain COVID-19 cautious as classes return in person

Fernanda Figueroa

UT students with children remain COVID-19 cautious for the safety of their families as they attend in-person classes again. 

Students with children remain concerned since children younger than 12 are not eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and UT announced Sept. 23 that more classes would be going back in person.

Graduate student Erica Howard Cormier said despite being vaccinated, she is concerned for her 6-month-old daughter and her 9-year-old son since they are not vaccinated and the Delta variant has a high rate of transmission. She said she is grateful everyone in her classes wears a mask, but she feels like she is missing out on experiences.

“My time on campus is really cut short, versus what I would like for it to be,” Howard Cormier said. “But it just doesn’t feel safe or comfortable (on campus).”  

Howard Cormier said UT no longer informing all classmates and professors of positive cases concerns her and she felt a pit in her stomach when she read the announcement in an email  Sept. 23.

“I really wish that they would still let people know,” Howard Cormier said. “(The email) was not encouraging.”

Graduate student Caitlin Arenas Martinez said her biggest concern is the exposure her 1-year-old daughter might encounter at daycare while Arenas Martinez is in class. 

“My biggest concern isn’t originating from (UT), it’s that (my daughter is) in daycare two days a week,” Arenas Martinez said. “I’m a little bit more concerned about the daycare workers … and other children that she’s around.”

Arenas Martinez said her professors and classmates have been understanding of her situation. She said one of her professors designated two rows of seating for students who are parents or might have a vulnerable family member at home in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Everybody has been super accommodating and super conscious of health guidelines, in particular people who might be connected to vulnerable persons or people with underlying conditions,” Arenas Martinez said.

Graduate student Ruairi Vaughan, who has a 9-month-old daughter, said his concerns were alleviated after classes started. He said his classmates and professors have been accommodating, but he doesn’t understand why people are socializing in large settings. 

“It’s hard to fathom how people can want to socialize in close proximity to others during a pandemic, especially in a state that seems to want the virus to keep spreading,” Vaughan said in an email. “I understand that people want to ‘return to normal’ but it’s so obviously not an option right now.”