Welcome back, COVID-style

By Katie Peters, Claire Crittendon & Meghan CarrollEditors-in-Chief & News Editor

September 5-8 saw the return of 720 resident and 263 commuter students to residential halls and academic buildings, according to the Registrar’s Office, unveiling the COVID-19 prepped campus. An additional 443 students are studying remotely online.

On June 17, President Michael Alexander announced in an email the plan to partially reopen campus for the fall semester. Students had until July 23 to decide which option they would prefer – to live on campus with a mix of online and in-person classes, commute to campus for some in-person classes or complete the semester online.

Students returning physically have new guidelines to adhere to, such as wearing face coverings outside of their dorm rooms, maintaining a physical distance of at least six feet from others, limiting access to shared spaces, and agreeing not to host visitors, among others.

Senior Amanda Sullivan chose to commute this semester. “I was planning on living on campus but I personally felt being at my house was the best for my mental health, especially since now you can’t hang with others… It’s more about my education so commuting seemed like the best choice,” Sullivan said.

Health Services is providing COVID-19 testing in of Edwards Student Center. Everyone who visits campus is required to get tested one-to-two times weekly depending on how often they visit campus.

“We all need to remember how we’re adaptable. Faculty are adaptable, students are adaptable, but we’re still the same people,” said Interim Dean of School of Communication and the Arts Meryl Perlson.

On July 16, Lasell decided NCAA competition would not be possible for fall sports. Fall athletes who planned on returning to play were given an additional week beyond the general student deadline to decide whether or not to return to campus.

Days later, the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) canceled all fall sports, additionally limiting the win- ter sports crossover for October through December. According to Athletic Director Kristy Walter, it was not an easy decision.

“It’s heartbreaking to me, it was really a tough decision for us to come to,” said Walters. “We’ve worked with the NCAA, with the GNAC, with an athletic COVID-19 team… but the hurdles just became too much in terms of making sure everybody can stay safe.”

It was also heartbreaking for athletes. Senior Alysha Rentas of the women’s volleyball team says, “It was honestly super disappointing. No matter how much they tried to prepare us for the possibility of the season being canceled, they couldn’t prepare us for the emotions we would feel once it was made official.” The women’s volleyball team, like other fall sports, just began practicing this week with heavy restrictions due to COVID-19.

Student who chose to study remotely, tuition was decreased from $19,500 to $12,000 to accommodate the differing experience, according to an email from President Alexander on June 17. Online students are not able to participate in athletic programs or most on-campus activities.

In retrospect, many students say they chose the online option because of the cost. Senior sports management major Peyton Young said, “The cost just didn’t make it seem worth it. As much as I wanted to be on campus my senior year, I needed to look at the reality of the situation.”

Young continued, “I hope I can go back for my last semester, I miss my friends and the campus atmosphere. No one knows where we are going to be in the next couple of months.”

Residential sophomore student Therese Brady decided to come back to Auburndale this fall to take advantage of the academic resources on campus. With a schedule of in-person and flex classes, she says she likes the mix. “It feels like you only have class once a week and the Zooms aren’t bad because you’re in the comfort of your room,” she says.

Brady describes campus’s social cli- mate this semester as dry. Since social gatherings are limited, campus is not as lively as years’ past. “Unless you’re going out for classes, there’s no real reason to go out,” she says.

According to Director of Student Activ- ities and Orientation (OSAO) Jenny Grang- er, “turnout has been pretty good with what we have had so far,” she said. “It is just up to the students to participate.” Updates from OSAO can be found on their Instagram (@ LUActivities) or twitter (@LU_Activities).

Lasell will see how the first semester goes as well as keep a close eye on COVID-19 cases before it makes a decision about how the second semester will look.

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