Lindsey Stirling (left) of Falls Church with Adrianna DeSantis (right) at Christopher Newport University’s indoor track at the Freeman Center, after their track team won their conference meet in February.
As a new round of high school seniors are moving on to college in the fall and continuing students get back to campus, it’s unclear how college campuses will look due to new precautions to ease the spread of COVID-19 and how it could affect college students’ experience.
“I’ve been so eager to get to school since we’ve been cooped up at home for so long, I just can’t wait to get there,” said Anna Keating of Vienna, attending the University of Virginia in the fall as a computer science major. “I’m also kind of nervous to see how they handle the COVID situation and how they’ll manage to keep everyone safe.”
“I’m very excited to start on time, but I’m also interested to see what kind of precautions my school will take,” said Colleen Ryan of Vienna, attending the Savannah College of Art and Design in the fall as a film and television production major. “I think it will take a lot of adjusting for the school and the students.”
FOR RETURNING STUDENTS, many are eager to get back on campus to see college friends and have normal classes again, especially after the abrupt halt to in-person classes in March.
“I really love the on-campus life, so having to leave that behind was hard,” said Lindsey Stirling of Falls Church, a rising sophomore at Christopher Newport University majoring in business management. “I have to say I’m excited to go back to campus and see all my friends again, but there’s definitely a little part of me that’s concerned that having all the students back on campus may cause another increase.”
With cases rising in many states and the threat of a second wave in the fall, a normal return to campus may be difficult to achieve.
Schools have begun announcing their plans for fall semester, which have included a wide array of precautions. Some schools like Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) are offering hybrid courses, while others like California State University, will hold a majority of in-person courses online.
Regardless of new precautions, some students are still concerned about coming back to campus.
“I am concerned just because schools are packed with people everywhere super close to each other and you don’t know where people have been or who they’ve had contact with,” said Nava Hosseini of Great Falls, a rising sophomore at VCU majoring in biology.
Some first-year students are also concerned about how the pandemic could affect their first-year experience.
“I’m concerned about getting [coronavirus], especially since it’s the first time I’ll be living on my own,” said Ryan. “It would be very stressful to handle alongside starting classes and learning to live away from home.”
Students are mixed on what precautions would make them comfortable on campus, or prevent an outbreak at their schools.
“I would definitely like the school to encourage students to consistently wash their hands and stop the spread of germs,” said Stirling, who also mentions social distancing in classrooms. “I think it’s important to teach the students to take the precautions themselves and be conscious of their own health.”
“I think they should have tests that are easily accessible to the students,” said Keating. “Everyone should get tested before they come on campus, and then if anyone has symptoms in the future they can go get tested.”
SOME STUDENTS also spoke on the matter of tuition, especially after students across the country spoke up about the difference in education quality with online courses, and also extra fees for services that couldn’t be used when not in-person.
“For example, I paid tuition for summer classes which are online and I had to pay a university fee, library fee, lab fee and a lot more things that the university offers in person that I can’t even use,” said Hosseini.
Still, many schools have yet to announce plans for fall semester, and with the pandemic changing every day, it’s unclear how fall semester will turn out.
“I know that I will try to keep a safe distance and stay healthy but I’m worried about other people’s efforts,” said Keating. “I don’t know how well others will do with maintaining healthy habits.”