Most years, the September Pierce College campus would be buzzing with lively conversation and students running from class to class.
But this is 2020.
And the campus is abandoned.
Since March, the campus has been closed to the public. But, Pierce students could benefit from using the outdoor spaces around campus.
The International Journal of Environmental Health Research published one of several studies that show spending a small part of the day outside can provide a significant uptick in happiness.
Some doctors are even writing “Park Prescriptions” for people struggling with chronic stress.
In a time where Pierce students spend a lot of their lives hunched over a screen, providing limited and safe access to campus could greatly improve a student’s mental health. But, students aren’t the only ones affected by the campus closure.
Before the pandemic, the Pierce campus was usually open and accessible to the public. Many residents from the surrounding area spent time with friends and family strolling through the Botanical Garden.
It’s worth remembering the community in community college.
The California State University Northridge (CSUN) campus remains open to the public and many people use the lush grounds as a park.
But how can Pierce administrators coordinate safe and efficient use of the grounds during a pandemic?
They could look to other publicly funded spaces, such as the Los Angeles Zoo, which has created an online reservation system to control the flow of visitors and keep attendance at a limited capacity.
They could tighten the perimeter fences to keep the buildings on campus protected but allow students to use the mall for walking and hiking.
The cross country track could be used by runners for exercise or by athletes for training.
Grassy areas could be used for socially-distanced picnics. Visitors can watch the sunset from the art hill.
The threat of Coronavirus is still high so it makes sense that Pierce administrators want to err on the side of caution regarding campus closures and public safety. But as long as visitors follow the guidelines published by the CDC, outdoor campus access should be granted.