It’s been three weeks since classes started, and if you’re like us here at the Campus Times, you’re sick and tired.

Despite the changes in New York State (and thus, University) policy to not mandate COVID-19 protocol, our favorite global pandemic has not gone fully away. Combine that with the rise of RSV, the common cold, and various weather-related under-the-weather ailments, and your average UR student is likely to deal with some sort of illness over the course of the next couple weeks.

As of now, students who test positive for COVID-19 are no longer required to self-report test results and symptoms to University Health Service (UHS). Dr. Chat Bot has long been extinct, and even in a 300-person packed lecture, masks are a scattered occurrence. While the era of COVID-19 is diminishing into a thing of the past and sickness policies have relaxed, there aren’t similar accommodations in place for other common illnesses during this dreary season.

With midterms coming up and courses in full swing, it can easily feel as if getting sick will put you far behind your classmates — and you may be right. Without getting help, deadlines start to pile up and pass you by. That doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult to write an email to a professor to ask for extensions — even in the best of times, doing so can feel like a failure. However, it’s important to communicate your situation in advance as much as possible, lest the sicknesses that impede your academic progress get worse.

On the medical side of things, in order to preemptively evade sickness, getting your COVID-19 booster and flu shot at UHS is in your best interest. For stress-induced illnesses, it’s important to take time to practice self-care; whether that’s getting the proper amount of sleep, having some scheduled “down time,” or just looking away from your screen for a minute each hour.

In addition to viral illnesses sweeping campus, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is also a common issue that students face. For many people, the shorter days with less sunlight can lead to problems such as feeling listless or sad for long periods of time, losing interest in activities, sleeping more than usual, and difficulty concentrating, among others. You can check out SAD lamps from Common Connection in Wilson Commons after filling out this request form. These lamps are specifically designed to help combat the effects of SAD and can be kept all the way until Monday, April 3. It’s recommended to use the lamp within the first hour of waking up for up to 30 minutes, keeping it about 16 to 24 inches away from your face, and not staring directly into the light.

Next, with the add/drop date quickly approaching in only a week, Feb. 12, consider your current course load and realistically assess your workflow. UR students are known for taking on way too much, which has prompted controversial changes to UR’s overload policy. You are not defined by how many credits you receive on your transcript. Many of us carry on late into the semester before realizing we have bitten off more than we can chew and struggle to maintain a balance of school and life. 

Do not be afraid to withdraw from a class even after the drop date. If dropping that extra course gives you the space to prioritize other coursework and maintain your sanity it is well worth the W. We have all been there — multiple members of our Editorial Board have taken withdrawals due to various complications. Life happens.

However, if you proceed with your chosen amount of caution and your sickness results in worse grades than you would have liked or other negative impacts on your life here, give yourself some leniency. Spring semester is difficult for many reasons, and the high susceptibility to catching the current bug is just one of them. 

Let’s not go back to pre-pandemic times, where half-alive students would force themselves to show up to lecture no matter how sick they were out of fear of falling behind. At some point, we’ve all experienced the reality of assignments stacking up and the feeling of never being able to fully catch up. But the truth is that trudging ahead without checking for a safety net can only get you so far. There’s more to staying afloat than just forcing yourself to tread water. It’s vital to know what resources are available to you if you are struggling, and that it’s more common than you think.

The Editorial Board is a weekly Opinions article representing the view of the Campus Times. This piece was co-written by Editor-in-Chief Alyssa Koh, Publisher Sarah Woodams, Managing Editor Allie Tay, and Photo Editor Henry Litsky.

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