Dear returning IU students,
First off, we miss you! As your community, we all treasure celebrating your accomplishments in the classroom, on the field and in the world. And while we all breathe a little sigh of relief when you leave for the summer each year, we know that your youthful exuberance is the life force of Bloomington. By the end of summer, we anxiously await your return.
This spring, we were saddened that you were denied the second half of the semester. We watched as you walked out of the classroom and off the field. And we lamented when you were unable to walk onto the stage and receive your diplomas. We were proud of the way you handled it all, how you adapted to the new reality with unity and made sacrifices with grace.
Today, we’re writing to tell you we're scared. When the vast majority of you left town, the population of Bloomington dropped significantly. And the Bloomington community, for the most part, has done a great job trying to stay safe, wearing masks, social distancing and following strict reopening guidelines.
Bloomington is also somewhat remote, which leaves us fairly insulated. As a result, the cases of infection and death in Monroe County have been comparatively low. But now the virus is worse than it’s ever been. In Monroe County, people aged 20-29 have the highest number of cases. And so, as we look toward your return en masse, we’re terrified.
We face the prospect of restarting school in the fall. We’re currently worrying for our school-age kids, teachers and administrators as they look to open K-12 schools in the coming weeks. We’re especially worried about your return in the fall.
We’ve seen the videos of young people flouting CDC guidelines in bars and restaurants and heard the reports of so-called COVID parties, and we’re scared about what the fall will look like when many of you return to campus. New cases are already being reported in multiple Bloomington bars, and we've seen some house parties in town this summer where young people were not taking the proper precautions to reduce the risk of sickness and death.
We all know the virus is trending in the wrong direction, and we all know that reopening schools only adds to the risk. So we’re asking for your help. If you choose to return to campus this fall, we implore you to be vigilant. Wear a mask anytime you walk into a building, even a restaurant, stay six feet away from others, wash your hands, quarantine at the first and slightest sign of infection and let others know you may be symptomatic.
A good basic rule of thumb is, until we have a vaccine, just assume you have it. If we do not agree to care for each other, we put ourselves and everyone we love at unnecessary risk.
We are your community. We serve you, we teach you, we drive your buses and we maintain your buildings. You provide us with joy, excitement and opportunity. We’re partners in this. We implore you to do your part to help keep us all safe.
On behalf of concerned Bloomington community members,
John Armstrong is the COO of Indiana-based film company Pigasus Pictures. He is also a 2002 and 2007 IU alumnus.