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We’re in the middle of a pandemic, quit hanging out with your friends

Every college student is familiar with syllabus day. 

We see when assignments are due, what day tests are scheduled for and if the professor has any special requirements. Then, if any stone is left unturned, we start asking questions. 

How many absences do we get? Can we use laptops and phones? What about food in class? 

It is our attempt as students to establish our rights, and there is nothing wrong with this practice. It helps professors and students get on the same page and establish mutual expectations. 

Now three months removed from syllabus week, most Oklahoma Christian University students find themselves under a new set of guidelinesshelter-in-place orders. Enacted by governors and mayors with the goal of slowing the spread of COVID-19, these mandates dictate which businesses may remain open and when people are allowed to leave their homes. 

Shelter-in-place guidelines ask people to stay at home as much as possible and only go out to purchase essential supplies, like food and medicine. In most states and local municipalities, those caught violating shelter-in-place orders may be subject to jail time, a fine or both. 

For example, violating Oklahoma City’s shelter-in-place order is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $750 fine. However, most governors and mayors say the orders will likely be enforced loosely. Police will not pull people over randomly, and pedestrians will not be frisked and questioned about their whereabouts. Citizens are expected to use good judgment and exercise personal responsibility. 

While most shelter-in-place orders are specific about which businesses can stay open and what you can leave your house for, they do not specifically answer every possible question. And similar to syllabus day, I have seen young people pose questions about shelter-in-place. 

Perhaps the most common question I have seen raised is thiscan I still hang out with all my friends if we are not in public? The vast majority of us now have plenty of free time, after all, and it can get old staying at home with family all of the time. 

Can you do it and get away with it? Almost certainly, as long as you are not throwing a wild, loud party with tons of people. Police are not going to stop and question you as you head to or from your friend’s house. 

Is it irresponsible, unnecessary and potentially detrimental to efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, which is now killing thousands of people everyday in America? Absolutely. 

Even if you have no symptoms, you can still spread COVID-19. It usually takes five days for symptoms to appear after you have contracted the coronavirus. Many who contract COVID-19 never even develop symptoms. So on the off chance you have contracted the disease and do not realize it, you will likely spread it to your friend. Chances are, they will spread it to everyone in their immediate family. If your friend goes out for essentials like food or medicine, they could very well spread it to fellow shoppers and employees. 

The more people you hang out with, the more the risk increases. Most people who contract coronavirus spread it to 2-3 people. Do the math, and you will see how quickly the coronavirus could spread if everyone decided to hang out with their friends privately. 

If you are still on campus for whatever reason, and you are still going back and forth between your friend’s apartments and dorms to hang out, you are putting yourself and others at great risk. You may think you are keeping a tight circle, but there is no way to guarantee this. Your friends could be interacting with far more people than you are aware of. 

Shelter-in-place guidelines should not be questioned and critiqued like syllabuses. There are lives at stake, not grades. The sooner we take shelter-in-place guidelines seriously, not stretching them or creating loopholes which benefit us, the sooner life will return to normal. 

For the next few months, or however long it takes to squash this virus, take advantage of technology like Zoom and FaceTime to stay connected to friends. Have a virtual movie night with the Netflix Party chrome extension. Physical distancing does not have to mean social isolation. 

The sooner everyone buys into social distancing and shelter in place, the sooner restrictions will be loosened and life can start to return to normal. Quit hanging out with your friends.

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One Comment

  1. Darryl Darryl April 7, 2020

    FYI–specifics of Shelter-in-place for Oklahoma can be found at

    As far as walking outside and getting exercise–there is no problem with this…

    “You can exercise outside, including on sidewalks, trails and in public parks. You can enjoy outdoor activities like long walks, bike rides and fishing. Green spaces in parks are open. But all playgrounds are closed, both public and private. City-owned golf courses, fitness courts, dog parks, disc golf courses, skate parks, recreation centers and sport courts (basketball, tennis, volleyball, etc.) are also closed.”

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