Monkeypox – Should Students Be Worried?

Lisa Wilson, Staff Writer

After living in a pandemic for over two years, could California State University, East Bay students face changes to on-campus classes this fall? As monkeypox cases are on the rise in California and the Bay Area, students face a new health challenge.

There are currently eight cases of monkeypox in California as of June 12, 2022, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The fear is that if monkeypox cases continue to rise, there would be the possibility of remote classes, cancellation of social events, mandatory masking, and other stringent requirements to keep people safe. These changes would stand to derail the University’s plans for a return to in-person instruction. This could place undue anxiety on returning and incoming students alike.

In spite of an uptick in cases, “it is unlikely monkeypox will affect the return to in-person classes in the fall, since it remains an extremely rare diagnosis,” explained Kimberly Hawkins, CSUEB’s News and Media Manager.

Additionally, it is unlikely that the virus will force universities to return to remote instruction this Fall. The California Department of Public Health described the risk of monkeypox as, “very low, based on the information available.”

Dr. Arnab Mukherjea, Chair & Associate Professor of CSUEB’s Department of Public Health echoes Hawkins, corroborating that, “As opposed to COVID-19, monkeypox is a rare infectious disease and its level of contagiousness is far less than many other transmissible conditions for which we don’t restrict in-person gatherings (either in the past or in current times).”

Further, Dr. Mukherjea discussed the nature of monkeypox and why the disease is a rare diagnosis: “Monkeypox is understood to be a virus, which requires very close physical contact for transmission, mainly because it is spread through large droplets which cannot travel very far and need to enter the host’s body through an accessible portal (e.g. sores and cuts).”

Dr. Mukherjea’s statements suggest that students will be safe returning to in-person classes on campus. “I don’t envision any restrictions being placed for monkeypox that otherwise would not exist for COVID. Of course, if numbers spike, the situation could change, but nothing suggests that monkeypox will be remotely close to the epidemic that COVID was and continues to be,” Dr. Mukherjea concluded.

What does this mean for CSUEB? Students will likely return to campus for the upcoming fall semester, albeit not without some minor modifications that we have all gotten used to. Don’t toss that mask in the trash just yet.