As the Uni Community nears the end of the 2020-2021 school year during the pandemic, students draw closer to the comfort and prospect of summer break.
With a flood of in-person opportunities, such as Uni’s On-Campus Enrichment Class Activities (OCECAs), towards the end of the year after months of canceled activities, the question “What do I do over the summer?” becomes the center of discussion moving into the final weeks of class.
In a Google Forms survey sent out to Uni’s student body, 34 students shared various ideas regarding how they wanted to spend their respective summer vacations. In the survey, recipients were prompted to answer a series of short answer questions that expressed their feelings toward some summer topics.
In the survey, many students highlighted the importance of getting vaccinated or having already been vaccinated.
According to the survey, 17 survey recipients (50%) have already gotten the vaccine or are in the process of getting the vaccine. The survey was released before the new vaccine qualifications for people aged 12-15, so survey recipients who answered yes consisted of mostly juniors and seniors with a few sophomores.
Many students also mention how the addition of vaccines to this everlasting pandemic influences their levels of comfortability heading into the summer.
When asked if getting the vaccine influences her summer plans, senior Charlotte Ebel answers: “Absolutely. [Four-fifths] of my immediate family is fully vaccinated, and nearly all of my friends are too. With the new CDC rulings, I feel comfortable in most settings and activities.”
Jonathan Yu, junior, and May Yang, senior, agree with Ebel.
Yu says, “I’m fully vaccinated, and although I could do those things without [the] vaccination, it gives a lot of peace of mind when traveling and allows me to hang out with friends who have strict parents that would not let us hang out if everyone [was not] vaccinated.”
Yang adds, “Since I’m vaccinated, I feel a lot less anxious about being in public.” However, Yang also says “I’ll continue to follow social-distancing and mask-wearing guidelines.”
Junior Ryan Boyd-Sharpe also mentions how he will still take proper safety-measures as well: “I am still going to be cautious, but now that I’m fully vaccinated, I might go out to do things a bit more than I have been.”
Regardless, with vaccination availability and distribution increasing and COVID-19 cases diminishing, many students are planning on doing activities over summer that were not possible over the majority of quarantine.
29 students (85.7%) answered yes to if they would be hanging out with friends over the summer in-person, and 20 students (58.8%) said they would be traveling or visiting family over the summer.
When asked about their specific plans for the summers, students provided a variety of responses. Several students highlighted doing activities such as: attending and working/volunteering at camps, playing sports, spending time with family, traveling, and more.
Zainab Mernon, a sophomore, highlights moving as one of her summer plans.
“Since I am a transfer this year, I do not yet live in the Uni area, [so] my family plans on moving during the summer. Hopefully after the move I could meet some of the Uni friends I have made so far,” Mernon says. “After the long process of moving and adjusting, I’d probably have to help my older sister get ready for college again.”
Subfreshman Callie Standerfer notes the importance of the weather and a goal she has for the summer.
“I plan on spending time with my friends because the weather is nice [and] we can hang out safely outdoors,” Standerfer comments. “Since I am new to Champaign-Urbana, I have a goal of going to every park this summer. That will take a while but it seems fun.”
Katie Powers, senior, says she is not planning on traveling, but will still participate in several activities.
“I will continue to take ballet classes and flute lessons, both of which I take full year, [and] I will [also] volunteer at a one-week day camp,” Powers notes. “Every week I will have a booth at the Homer Farmer’s Market to sell magnets, keychains, and other items that I have created, [and] I will prepare for [my] first semester of college.”
With the pandemic, there have been a limited number of colleges open for in-person visits. Students, especially Rising Seniors, typically use summer as a time to visit college campuses. However, with all the restrictions, only a handful – 5 students – said they would be visiting colleges.
Junior Isabel Dennison replied “Maybe/Not Sure” in the survey and elaborates on her choice: “I’m not sure how many colleges are going to open up, and I’m also not sure if I would be traveling just to see colleges.”
As Uni’s community nears its 14th month during the pandemic, it is hard to deny all the time lost and all the possibilities and opportunities that slipped away.
In their survey responses, many individuals mentioned many possible activities they would do right now if COVID were to disappear.
Some responses included: traveling internationally to places in Asia and Europe, to see friends and family, and just for the sake of being able to travel; getting together with friends to do activities such as sleepovers, and going to amusement parks, concerts, and restaurants; and attending camps that are not currently available.
In general, with the light at the end of the tunnel seemingly coming closer, students are excited and hopeful for summer vacations and look forward to what the future brings – hopefully a future without COVID.