Students Return to Campus for Second Semester
After an unusually lengthy winter break, students are ecstatic to finally be back on campus! Due to the ongoing global pandemic, Beloit College altered its calendar, meaning that winter break lasted from early December until mid-February, which meant that students were away from campus much longer than they are accustomed to. The altered calendar allotted two extra weeks for students to quarantine after the holidays. While it was recommended that holiday celebrations be limited to those in your household, it was inevitable that this suggestion would be disregarded. After two grueling months confined to their homes, away from their friends and favorite professors, students are thrilled to be settled back into their home away from home here at Beloit.
Last semester, there were only approximately 700 students on campus, but this semester, plenty more students have arrived — most notably, many more international students. A number of students opted to attend classes remotely the first semester, simply because of the uncertainty and dangers surrounding the rates of COVID-19 infection in Wisconsin and in Rock County. This semester, students are optimistic that things will begin to turn around as a result of the new vaccine — and of course, if everyone continues to do their part to keep each other safe. At this time, the daily average of diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in Rock and Winnebago counties rests at 9 cases per 100,000, which is a decrease from 16 cases per 100,000. Way to go Rock and Winnebago counties!
Required COVID-19 testing will continue on campus. This semester, scheduling for tests will work a bit differently. Previously, students were set to be tested every other week, and were allowed to select different time slots each week. Now, students will still be tested every other week, but will select a time slot and stick with it for at least the first mod, and possibly the whole semester. If by any chance, a student is unable to make it to their scheduled appointment, they should reach out to the Health and Wellness Center as soon as possible to reschedule. When I spoke with Tara Girard, head of the Health and Wellness Center, she told me that testing will occur each week, Monday through Thursday, and that Fridays will be reserved for make-up testing. Students who are not tested during the week will need to quarantine until the following Monday between 7:30am and 8:30am.
While the pandemic continues to touch our lives in every aspect, Beloit College has continued to move forward with programming. There is never a dull moment on campus — even in just the first two weeks of the semester! On Friday, February 19th, the campus celebrated the first anniversary of the opening of the new student union, the Powerhouse. All day, activities took place inside of the building. Students were able to win prizes, and everyone was allowed a free piece of Powerhouse ‘birthday’ cake. Furthermore, this past week marked the start of the rush season for Beloit’s fraternities and sororities. Virtual movie nights have still been happening, too. Black Students United has been meeting regularly since the week prior to the beginning of classes, and even had a virtual Spirit Week! According to Tara Girard, the Health and Wellness Center, who was once known for their programming and events, is attempting to revive their reputation.
Upon arrival to campus, many students wondered whether or not Hamilton’s Cafe would switch up its menu. Many students complained that the usual menu of burgers and fries was growing old. Heeding to this outcry, Hamilton’s is now serving Mexican food. Each day, they offer students the option of a taco bowl, tacos, a burrito, or a torta. While this is a great change, students are wondering whether or not this daily menu will change for the next module; even tacos can get boring.
Another source of excitement for students upon returning to campus is that many more classes are being held in-person. This is something that was quite rare during the first semester, so students are excited to be reunited with professors in-person. Freshmen are even more ecstatic, as they are not yet familiar with the in-person class experience. In order to make in-person classes possible and safe, desks have been socially distanced, entire classes do not all meet on the same day, desks and chairs and disinfected regularly, and masks are worn by students and professors alike.
So far, this semester is looking like it will be a promising one. Spirits seem to be quite high on campus, and everyone remains dedicated to maintaining a safe campus. Here’s to hoping that this semester is even better than the last!