As far back as I can remember this time of year was exciting for me. I loved going shopping for new school supplies. I picked out new folders and art supplies. I still remember how excited I was when my mom found a WALL·E backpack while shopping at Rite Aid before I started third grade.
As a college student with Cerebral Palsy, however going back to school feels much different. I dropped out of Westfield State University, due to logistical challenges, and inadequate disability services. I’ve opted to attend Greenfield Community College this fall. I want to feel good about attending college this fall.
Many colleges are no longer taking COVID-19 precautions. I don’t want to get sick this fall. For example, WPI in Worcester, MA, has stopped doing weekly surveillance testing and is instead only doing rapid tests for people who have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19. Except in medical settings, masks are no longer required on campus. In addition, most students will now need to set up their own isolation and quarantine space.
I have stayed home for much of the past two years. My doctor’s appointments are still virtual whenever possible. I still wear a mask when I have to go out. I am nervous about attending in person classes. I haven’t attended in-person classes since 2019.
I’ve gone days without leaving my apartment. Leaving my apartment causes me a great deal of anxiety. Last week, I went out to eat at a roadside restaurant. I was uncomfortable, even though I was outdoors. I used to look forward to going out, but these days, it makes me nervous.
As a college student with Cerebral Palsy, I am nervous about attending classes. COVID-19 is far from over. For disabled people and others considered high risk, the pandemic has been extra challenging. Please be patient with us, if we are anxious.
Nadworny, Elissa. “Colleges Ease COVID-19 Restrictions as Fall Semester Begins for Millions of Students.” NPR, NPR, 16 Aug. 2022, https://www.npr.org/2022/08/16/1117588455/colleges-ease-covid-19-restrictions-as-fall-semester-begins.