By: Dalet Valles
Published By: The Chimes Newspaper
The words of President Joe Biden echoed through the nation, calling off the pandemic. Many around the world, including the Biola community, continue to experience the hardships of COVID-19. Illness, mental health and isolation — physical and emotional — took a toll on many students at Biola.
“The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over,” Biden said in an interview on Sept. 18.
Biola continues to face problems with COVID-19, including a handful of students testing positive for the virus during this semester. Though Biola has eased regulations that were in place at the beginning of the pandemic, the Health Center continues to monitor the issues at hand.
The Coronavirus Response website states, “We encourage our community to remain vigilant since COVID-19 has not been eradicated and the virus can continue to mutate into new variants.”
Some students around Biola still face obstacles of the virus, some having come in close contact with students who tested positive while others have tested positive themselves. Kayla Cha, a first-year journalism major, witnessed the restrictions of the coronavirus. Even with mild symptoms, COVID-19 prompted many difficulties in her daily routine.
“I was more irritated that I was missing class and events, but I am thankful I did not have to spend too much time in quarantine,” Cha said.
Cha missed her weekly small group, a social group scavenger hunt and academic advising because of COVID-19, despite only being positive for three days. However, she expressed that many professors granted her grace in the midst of her isolation.
“My professors were very understanding and let me make up my quizzes, but it was still a bit of a pain,” said Cha.
The Department of Digital Journalism and Media sent Cha a care package with a mug, tea, chocolates and a personalized card. She said it helped her throughout the process of recovering from the virus.
Hope Li, sophomore journalism major and a Chimes design editor, experienced the same accommodations from her professors. Li received extensions on a couple of assignments and was allowed to Zoom into her Torrey Honors sessions.
“Most of my professors and the people involved in my prior engagements understood that I was sick, and they gave me extensions for my school work,” said Li.
COMMUNITY IN THE PANDEMIC
For many, isolation can prove to be a difficult situation, but students who are isolating in Thompson Hall are working to make it a positive situation. FaceTime calls, meaningful messages and a few small hellos to other isolated students has built a connection for those who have been apart from the rest of Biola. Community has proven to be a useful tool to help students persevere through their illness, including for Cha.
“A lot of my friends actually tested positive,” Cha said. “At one point during isolation we all opened our doors and waved at each other from the hallway.”
Li, who decided to isolate at home, also experienced the sense of community in the middle of isolation. Though she was away from both her family and Biola community, causing some loneliness, she was able to connect to others in different ways.
“A lot of people, especially people I did not expect, told me I was not alone in a lot of different ways,” said Li. “My coworker texted me to check up on how I was doing and made me laugh. Even some people from church were checking up on me.”
TIME TO REST
As a college student, Li experiences a demanding schedule. One of her first actions after testing positive was to find accommodations for classes. Isolation has been portrayed as a terrifying time, but for Li, along with others, it has provided a much needed time of rest.
“Well, I think overall for me personally getting COVID was a time God was really telling me the importance of rest in my everyday life,” said Li.
Time with God seemed to be a common thread among the students who have been isolated.
“Though I was annoyed about having to isolate, it actually gave me a lot of time to reflect and talk to God,” said Cha. “I think it can be hard for students to find quiet time with such busy schedules, but being in isolation helped me spend more time with Him.”
When a student tests positive for COVID-19, there is a process they need to follow. The student can contact the Health Center, Isolation Hotline, the COVID Care Coordinator, Pastoral Care or the Learning Center. Students need to contact the Learning Center to receive accommodations for classes. Li expressed that she faced some confusion in the process, wondering if assignment extensions and excused absences are both covered in her 10-day isolation period.
Students should also expect to receive meals from the cafeteria to ease the worry of finding ways to access their needed nutrition. Cha received two meals a day — lunch and dinner. Though the pandemic eased, COVID-19 is still very present in many lives. Biola continues to care for the students, staff and faculty that face this obstacle.