Return to In-Person Classes: A New Normal
It goes without saying that many of us were not prepared to deal with the challenges and consequences that the COVID-19 virus had brought onto us as students and individuals in the beginning of 2020. At the start of the pandemic Beloit College took protective measures to ensure the safety of its students, staff and faculty. This meant an email from the college alerting students who had left campus in March 2020 for spring break, to not return back to campus due to the danger of the contagious COVID-19 virus. It was a shock to many of us.
Devastated. Confused. Unsure of the future. We waited next to our phones or devices to receive constant updates from the college on what the next move was. Waited as the week of spring break 2020 passed us by. The college advised people who were already off campus to stay away and for individuals who decided to stay on campus for spring break were told to return home until further notice. Many of us returned back to our hometown, the places we grew up in. Or found shelter in other locations, waiting to hear what was to come. A week turned into two and by the end of the second week the school put out a statement saying students will continue classes from remote locations.
How were we as individuals and college students supposed to adjust to such big changes? The academic semester of 2020-2021 was done from our childhood bedrooms, basements, kitchens, cars, even some students having to join from their place of work. Zoom, an online audio and video conferencing platform, became a crucial tool in assistance to our education. Many students called it Zoom university, lightening the load of what was unprecedented times. Each student struggled with their own set of obstacles that the pandemic brought on to us. Teachers as well struggled with adjusting to online classes, some who had no technological experience. But guess what? The community of Beloit College proved itself to be strong, adaptable, and determined individuals. Thanks to our community efforts we have officially returned to in-person classes for the academic year of 2021-2022.
The COVID-19 Task Force, consisting of: Tara Girard, Lori Rhead, Erica Daniels, Kristin Bonnie, and Cecil Youngblood, have dedicated themselves to ensuring the safety of our community. At the beginning of August the task force sent out an email listing the guidelines in place to protect against the spread of the virus. Before returning to campus, each individual was asked to provide proof of vaccination. For people who were unable to be fully vaccinated, it was asked that they send in documentation of a negative test result while also adhering to the rule of weekly COVID-19 testing. Testing was available and conducted at the Health and Wellness Center. These guidelines as well as social distancing, requirement of face coverings were also crucial to help bring our campus fully back to in-person.
This academic term is different from anything Beloit College has ever experienced. Things aren’t operating as usual but campus life seems to be going pretty close to what it was like before COVID hit us. The school is no longer continuing with the module system that was set in place last year which enabled maximal flexibility and minimal disruption of their educational mission. Fall sports are in full swing now. Athletes are able to compete in the Midwest Conference. The Powerhouse is lively again filled with old and new students. The Commons dining hall has returned back to it’s all you can eat style once again; still providing an option to take your food to go. Things are slowly being placed back in motion as we continue to work together to ensure a safe community. Remember, self care is community care!