College Senior Shares COVID Battle, Encourages Students to Get Vaccinated

Most Texas schools are planning for in-person instruction this fall

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Worries are growing as thousands of college students head back to campus for in-person classes amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in Texas.

Raven McNeil is eager to start her senior year at Prairie View A&M, but first, she has to fully recover from COVID-19.

McNeil contracted the virus in late July and spent four days in the hospital.

At first, she experienced minor symptoms. Two rapid antigen tests came back negative, yet McNeil became increasingly sick suffering body aches and a high fever.

A third test confirmed she had COVID-19.

"I just felt like I was dying," McNeil said. "My whole body was hot. Every time I moved I had shortness of breath."

When she became too winded to make the short walk to her bathroom, she went to the hospital and spent four days receiving oxygen. She was not allowed visitors and Facetimed her anxious parents back in Arlington.

"I had to be alone, isolated," McNeil said. "It was terrible."

She's now recovering at her parents' home and said she feels much better, though she still gets short of breath at times.

McNeil, who lost her grandfather to the virus in February, said she planned on getting vaccinated before the fall semester started, but caught COVID-19 first.

As Prairie View A&M plans to return for the fall semester along with other Texas colleges, she's encouraging students to get vaccinated.

"Make sure you are really learning about the vaccine because COVID is no joke and I would hate for anybody to experience this," McNeil said.

Across the state, colleges and universities are revising their fall semester policies as COVID-19 cases surge.

Citing Governor Abbott's executive order, the large public university systems are not requiring masks or vaccines, though vaccines are being encouraged for students and staff.

Private schools TCU and SMU announced they will temporarily require masks indoors amid the surge.

Baylor University will be requiring testing for unvaccinated students.

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