CHICO, Calif. - Campuses across the state continue to look empty. Universities like Chico State are planning for a return to in-person classes this fall but students fear the U.K. COVID-19 variant could interfere.
Cole Murdock is a fifth-year mechanical engineer major at Chico State said trying to finish his last year of college hasn't been easy.
"It has definitely been a lot harder to learn," Murdock said. "I feel like it has been more of doing assignments and not too much learning. I just started my capstone project where we have to be very hands-on and it is hard to actually do stuff."
The B117 variant was first detected in the UK and quickly spread to over 200 countries.
Local health experts said the variant is extremely contagious and it is important this age group gets vaccinated so they can return to campuses like Chico State.
"The concern is that we are going to get more variants down the line," Infectious Disease Physician at Mercy Medical Center, Matt Miles said. "We can't tell what those variants will look like but the real point of getting vaccinations done and getting the population vaccinated is you then provide less of an opportunity for that virus to propagate itself in the population to replicate itself because the more it replicates the more likely you are going to get mutations and these variants are going to potentially develop."
Students said this has prompted them to want to be more cautious.
"It kind of makes me think maybe I should be at home," Chico State student, Damaris Benabides said.
"Our whole age group can work harder to get this over with because now it is affecting us more," said Chico State student, Lauren Belting.
"Yea, I really do hope we can return back to classes soon and everyone can receive the vaccine," said Murdock.
Miles said we are mainly seeing this variant detected in people who are in their 20's, 30's and 40's.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said Saturday, doubling down on safety measures, masking up, social distancing, avoiding crowds, coupled with quick and efficient vaccinations can help curb another COVID-19 surge.