Following a long and restful winter break, students returned to campus this past week excited to get back to life at the University.
“Coming back from winter break, especially after Omicron, it did feel a little weird,” Kiana Low ’24 said. “It felt very surreal at the beginning and a little disorienting, but I think I got back into the swing of it pretty quickly. We all had a lot of time to ourselves, so knowing what is in store in college life is exciting but also nerve-wracking.”
On Tuesday, Jan. 4, President Michael Roth ’78 sent out an all-campus email explaining the delayed start to the spring semester. The first day of classes was moved from Jan. 20 to Jan. 27 as the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus spread across the nation.
“I remember when we got the alert [and] I was just like, ‘this isn’t real,’” Amanda Swartz ’24 said. “I could be mad at whomever, but [in the end] it’s not really worth it.”
Though the delayed start aimed to reduce infection on campus and make the transition back to campus life smoother, some students struggled to readjust to campus.
“I think everybody feels a little bit rusty coming back,” Emma Steckline ’24 said. “I also think that pushing [the semester] back didn’t actually help reduce the infection because [we] still [had] the same protocols for arrival, just a week later.”
Students who are still recovering from contracting COVID-19 over winter break are learning to get back into their work routine.
“The exhaustion is still hitting and it is kind of rough with all the work so far,” Kornelia Mostrous ’24 said.
Others who contracted the virus over the break noted how this semester might look different for them.
“Since I just had COVID, I don’t feel as scared of getting it,” Eiley Doyle ’25 said. “[Being back on campus] feels weird because I don’t have to get tested for the next 90 days.”
Preceding the start of the semester, students had to account for the unexpected snow storm, which covered the majority of the northeastern United States. Those traveling longer distances faced greater obstacles as they juggled online classes and rescheduling travel plans due to flights being cancelled.
“I was supposed to get into Connecticut [at] 10:00 p.m. on Friday, [but] instead I got in at 10:00 p.m. on Sunday night,” Swartz, who experienced several delays while travelling from Los Angeles to Hartford, said.
Unlike previous semesters during the pandemic, classes were held online for the first two days of the semester, with in-person classes resuming the following week in accordance with the University’s new COVID-19 protocols.
“I was in my dorm Thursday morning for all my Zoom classes,” Doyle said. “[I] planned around [the storm], which was [a] good [idea].”
Although classes remain in person, dining services will remain grab-and-go until Monday, Feb. 7. Though these protocols are aimed at reducing contact between students, some students have questioned the University’s grab-and-go policy since students still continue gathering inside Usdan University Center.
“I mean, to a certain extent, by not putting chairs around, [the University is] reducing the amount of people who [are eating] here,” Evan Hsu ’24 said. “But you know, it’s not like they’re enforcing anything.”
In addition, many students expressed confusion about the implementation of COVID-19 protocols, as many spaces like Olin Library and the Freeman Athletic Center remained open for students’ use.
“I didn’t really understand what the COVID regulations were going to look like because there were some things that I was unclear about,” Steckline said.
Though some students remain skeptical about COVID-19 protocols, others applaud the University for doing their best to protect students during these unprecedented times.
“I think the administration is doing their best and really trying to draw the line between keeping students happy and keeping students safe, which I think is good,” Hsu said.
Despite the conflicting views on the University’s administration and COVID-19 guidelines, students are looking forward to the warmer weather and more open University life as the semester continues.
“I’m looking forward to the spring,” Swartz said.“It’s such a transformative time when it gets warmer out and the mood of the entire campus and individual people shifts.”
While it is unclear what life will look like on campus as the pandemic continues, students are optimistic that the University community will adjust with changing circumstances.
“I think that every semester we are learning a little bit more to live with COVID,” Steckline said.
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