Given the rise of the delta variant, I am incredibly worried about the public health implications (and for my family’s health) of returning in person next week.

I cannot believe I am saying this at an institution of higher learning—even the full-on commercial ventures have put off bringing people back into offices this fall (Google, Amazon) — but here it is. This is irresponsible from a public health perspective. There is no universal masking, no strict requirement that people are vaccinated. (Even with tightening on “personal reasons,” people do not have to be fully vaxxed until well into the school year, after the damage is done.)

Educators and health care professionals at WSU do not seem to care that cases in WA state rose 192% over the past 2 weeks (Texas was +53%, btw). Deaths are up 126%. Whitman county is currently 43% vaccinated (over 12).

And what about those of us with children under 12? Who is wondering what will happen in terms of transmission to and from them as they return to public schools? My zipcode where my child will attend school is 43% vaxxed as well. Teachers are not required to be vaccinated.

I sense that there is a high-stakes game of chicken being played on the backs of faculty, their families and – worst of all – students who belong to the highest hospitalization risk group now. It’s a frightening public health experiment that I have been told I cannot opt out of and students have no recourse if they are concerned about their own vulnerabilities.