In spring 2020, COVID-19 closed thousands of college campuses and sent millions of students home to receive their education remotely through Zoom. After constant blue light exposure and pervasive isolation, institutions nationwide have re-opened by introducing COVID-19 procedures to ensure the safe return of students and staff to in-person learning. Although COVID-19 cases are declining, there is still a possibility of new cases ocurring on campuses.
Whether students are required to get vaccinated or not varies depending on the state. For example, in some states, some policies forbid schools from requiring students to disclose their vaccination status. While some institutions are mandating the vaccine, some are offering incentives encouraging individuals to get it. Incentives such as free housing or tuition, meal plans and even electronics have been offered.
Some U.S. schools are requiring international students to get vaccinated upon their arrival. They are trying to make sure the vaccine they receive is on the World Health Organization’s list of acceptable vaccines to ensure the vaccine is valid and safe. Professionals are actively examining the course of the virus to make sure universities stay open. Countless have struggled because of their college experience being dampened by the impact of the pandemic. This is especially true for students who travel out of state as well as internationally. No one wants to discover new environments just to be contained in them.
For the Mount, all individuals on campus are required to be vaccinated except for personal/religious or medical reasons. Excused students are allowed to attend class online, while any student who resides on campus must attend class in person unless in the case of an emergency. The Mount also offered a drawing of gift cards for those who received their shot by a specific time period.
Regardless of their vaccination status, residents are required to wear masks unless they are eating, alone in a designated area, in their personal residential hall or participating in vigorous exercise. Unvaccinated residents face being swab tested per the Mount’s health and safety protocol. Certain athletes have to be swab tested each week when the season begins to prevent a mass spread.
A few elements of campus life have returned to near normalcy, such as the cafeteria, class sizes and athletic events. In Patriot, the original seating arrangement has returned in addition to the self-serve buffets. In-person class sizes have changed from eight, for example, to 20 instead. Games and outdoor extracurricular events can be attended like usual; however, if an individual is experiencing symptoms, they are expected to isolate.
With masks dotting the campus and noses being poked, complete normalcy is still only an idea. However, campuses across the U.S have journeyed a long route from where they began in the earlier stages of the pandemic. Officials are still confident that despite the essential health measures, students can gain an enriching college experience even with their smiles covered.