Written by Max Ashforth
On the 11th March 2020, the World Health Organisation officially declared a worldwide pandemic. Almost a year on from that, over 100,000 people in the UK have sadly lost their lives and we are yet to see significant light at the end of the tunnel. Although a vaccine has been manufactured, it is going to be many more months before we can experience normality again.
Just two days later, university life as we all know it was ceased as the University of Leicester officially closed due to the rising cases of the coronavirus. Remote learning became the new norm and we are still yet to see face to face teaching on a regular basis.
March 2020 saw the year brought to an abrupt halt with restrictions imposed on almost everything except essential food shopping. New guidelines were outlined, such as social distancing, in an attempt to mitigate the infection rate.
University students in particular have been heavily affected by the pandemic, with social mixing at an all-time low and almost all other benefits of student life off limits, students have understandably found post-lockdown life difficult.
Louise Manley, a 1st year history and politics student, said: “A lot of people are stuck in accommodation on their own or stuck at home on their own.”
As cases have continued to rise, with a low rate failing to be sustained, it is understandable to assume that Government measures are either insufficient or not being adhered to.
Mafalda Pedro, a modern languages with management student, said: “I think people should stop being ignorant of the severity of the virus, especially young people. At lot of young people tend not to care about the virus because they are more likely to come out of it fine especially in comparison to older people, but I don’t think that people should ignore the severity of the virus as there are many young people that have severe reactions to the virus.”
Life as we all knew it was quickly a thing of the past as mask wearing and social distancing became a new social norm as well as a legal requirement.
In comparison to the first lockdown that we saw in March 2020, the lockdown which we are currently in has been criticised by many.
The treatment of university students by the Government is also something that has been criticised. Students feel as though they have been forgotten about with almost every other group being given support but themselves.
Louise added: “A lot of our lives aren’t being considered, it’s not being considered that before lockdown we were being sociable, we were drinking, going out places and having a therapy that we aren’t getting now.”
In light of several vaccines being approved for use, it is clear to see why people’s guards may have been lowered, although in order for cases to continue to fall this cannot be the case.
Caitlin Mantini, a politics and international relations student, said: “You might not get sick from it, but someone might lose a family member. Stop being selfish, you could literally kill a person.”
Mafalda added: “I think people should stop being ignorant of the severity of the virus, especially young people. At lot of young people tend not to care about the virus because they are more likely to come out of it fine especially in comparison to older people but I don’t think that people should ignore the severity of the virus as there are many young people that have severe reactions to the virus.”
Covid testing is something that has been widely reported on and with very contrasting views. For students, the vast majority were required to receive a negative test result before returning home for Christmas from their accommodation.
Mafalda also went on to say: “My testing experience was good. But I think testing should be available more easily for people who think they might have the virus and are showing symptoms but also for people who may need regular testing.”
It is easy to underestimate the degree to which the virus could impact us individually, should we catch it, however it is essential to remember that people are dying every day and we must all ensure that we are always following Government guidelines. As restrictions look to be lifted gradually in the coming weeks, it is important to make this lockdown the last.
As the vaccination process has begun to gain momentum, students can hope for face-to-face teaching and a more familiar feel at university from next year.
Max Ashforth is a first-year journalism student first year with aspirations to pursue a career in journalism. You can find him on instagram @Max_Ashforth.