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(OPINION) Amid COVID and College, Students Need Thanksgiving More Than Ever

Author: Sergei Kelley

This year’s tumultuous nature for students between coronavirus, the election, political tension, and online classes shows that a time of family, gratitude, and ease is what’s needed.

At Michigan State University, the year was projected to be in-person with all the necessary precautions of mask-wearing and social distancing. Just weeks prior to classes starting, MSU announced online courses and the closure of almost all campus dormitories. For most students, online classes have been met with more ease, but uncertain instructions, technical difficulties, and a hit to ambition.

MSU has repeatedly patted its own back on the development and prestige of its online classes, with little recognition of the difficulties of online classes and where they are not effective. Virtual classes are not the same as in person, and the university recently approved a satisfactory/not satisfactory grading system to alleviate misfortuned grades.

[RELATED: Columbus Day at MSU: ‘Pioneer’ Title Regrets, Pres Says ‘Rethink History,' and More]

An in-person campus is much more than in-person classes. A sizable part of what students pay is for the social aspect, the community, and education is undoubtedly lifted when learning with others.

In Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has taken many hard stances against many freedoms, many of which MSU has agreed with. For months now, students who expected to be on campus with at least some social interaction have been behind a screen and with no offer of lower tuition.

Michigan State students are already part of a demographic facing a large proportion of mental health woes and depression. Due to the pandemic and efforts to curve the pandemic, suicides have been up even higher. Regardless of your political leaning, lockdowns and forcing seclusion clearly deteriorates mental health.

As a nation coming out of a tumultuous election, and for many students hearing about the negativity and disregard for the Trump Presidency of the last four years, and those applauding the seemingly current win of Joe Biden, remembering and giving thanks for our blessings and what we do have, among family and company would be good. It would strengthen families, friends and neighbors--even of political opposites, and bring focus back to very important influences on our lives.

This Thanksgiving should be celebrated joyfully and bountifully, and as a refuge from the doldrums of online classes, overbearing coronavirus restrictions, and a polarizing America.

However, even in this great importance of Thanksgiving, a good holiday with a history of Native Americans and early Pilgrims living in comradery and fellowship, we do need cognizance of the times.

Attempting more segmented Thanksgiving celebrations can still provide for the time of thanks, ease, and fellowship which students need, but can also help lessen the spike of cases and hasten America’s exit from the coronavirus.

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