It's that time of year again in Ohio; the winter weather barges in faster than ever, giving us inches of snow and freezing temperatures. On-campus activities have already been paused once this semester amid blizzard-like conditions in Cincinnati. This begs the question: If students are suffering from the weather conditions on campus, the roads aren't safe for commuters and COVID-19 is still ravaging our nation, why allow students to return to campus now?
At the very least, every single class should offer an online option to students. Whether it be COVID-19 concerns (which are still 100% valid, by the way), or weather concerns, students deserve to feel safe. As someone who lives in the Clifton area, I see a new wreck every single day. This backs up traffic, causing people to be late to essential responsibilities and putting everyone in danger.
While unlikely to happen, I think there are some quick fixes UC can do to our current system this semester.
As I said, offer an online option for every single class. If students feel that they can only learn in a classroom, which is understandable, they should be allowed to, provided that proper COVID-19 guidelines are followed. If a student can't afford to travel to campus, doesn't feel safe or comfortable because of the weather conditions or has apprehensions due to COVID-19, it's the school's job to make their classes accessible, nonetheless.
Second, UC should consider providing more provisions to students to deal with inclement weather. An estimated 17% of students face homelessness at some point during their time at UC. When temperatures start to drop, this becomes a deadly scenario. Temporary housing, warm meals, gloves, coats and other winter essentials can save lives during Ohio winters. The UC administration should invest more time and effort into protecting students near campus, which begins with the students' health.
There are things we can all do to stay safe while we have to attend on-campus classes. Always wear enough protection from the cold, as serious health issues can arise when skin is exposed to low temperatures for too long. If you don't feel you have enough to wear, the Freestore Foodbank often has free clothing and outerwear available to those in need. You can also find affordable coats, hats and gloves at consignment/thrift stores like Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul. Some other winter essentials to carry are chapstick, lotion, extra socks and hand sanitizer. It's always good to keep an emergency stash of food and essentials in your car, as well, just in case you get stranded anywhere.
There are health and safety resources students can hunt down in Cincinnati. However, just like the past couple of semesters, we are once again wishing that universities would prioritize students' wellbeing over attendance and funding.