OPINION: As students return, staying healthy should be a priority

It’s common for students to fall ill towards the beginning of the semester, so everyone should take steps to remain healthy. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Students often get sick at the beginning of the semester, especially in the midst of cold and flu season.

It’s important that members of the USF community take the necessary precautions to keep them and others from getting sick.

“Campus life brings people together… All this togetherness creates many opportunities for respiratory illnesses, such as flu, to spread,” said the CDC on its website.

During the past couple of years, masks, social distancing and other COVID-19 precautions have helped to lessen this, as stated in the Florida Flu Review by Florida Health.

USF and many other schools across the state have started lifting these restrictions. They still encourage COVID vaccines and testing, as stated on its website, but masks and social distancing are no longer required. In addition to this, nearly every class that was in person before the pandemic has returned to that format without a virtual option, according to a March 2021 announcement by the university.

While some are relieved to see USF begin to return to normal, it’s even more important now to make an effort to stay healthy. 

COVID-19 precautions were helpful in reducing other illnesses. Very few flu or flu-like illness outbreaks were reported in 2020, and the number remained low through 2021 and the beginning of 2022, according to Florida Health. 

Unfortunately, these numbers are starting to rise during the 2022-23 flu season. Out of everyone who visited the emergency room with flu symptoms, only 1% out of 100,000 were diagnosed with the flu in 2020. This number jumped to nearly 4% over the past month, as stated in the Florida Health report.

In addition to this, doctors have recently found a new subvariant of COVID. XBB.1.5 is the most transmissible strain to date, said Maria Van Kerkhove, leader for the WHO’s COVID-19 response, in a Jan. 4 briefing.

There are plenty of ways to stay healthy and try to prevent the beginning of the semester sickness. Sleep, nutrition and exercise are all ways to prevent getting sick, according to a Dec. 28 article by DeVry University. 

USF Student Health Services also offer free appointments and consultations to all enrolled students, as stated on its website. It’s important to treat illnesses as soon as possible and the on-campus health center makes it easy for students to do that. 

Now that campus has begun to return to normal, it’s more important than ever that students continue to take illnesses seriously and do their best to keep themselves and others healthy.