Alma’s reaction to the new school year

Bailey Langbo and Sarah Sheathelm

Campus

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic left students and faculty across the world scrambling to adapt to circumstances no one had ever seen before—jobs and classes were moved online, and nearly everything that could not be done over a computer was stopped indefinitely. Streets emptied, buildings remained locked up and the world itself seemed to stop moving overnight.

A year and a half later, although the world is still feeling the effects of the pandemic, it seems as though campus is returning to some sense of normalcy as a new school year is ushered in. While masks still must be worn indoors, other aspects of campus life have been welcomed back with open arms, including athletics, self-served meals at Hamilton Commons and in-person classes.

With these new changes in mind, one cannot help but wonder how students and faculty alike are feeling about this upcoming semester.

Seniors are happy to spend their last year on campus and being given the opportunity to make connections with peers.

“I’m grateful to be back on campus to finish up my senior year,” said Binta Kassama (‘22). “Now that things are back to normal as they can be, it feels both exciting and bittersweet to experience my last first everything—football games, Homecoming, recruitment and many more.”

Others share similar sentiments about the improvement of the social climate of Alma College. “It feels good to be on campus and doing more things in person,” said Lexy Maas (‘22). “I’m thankful for being able to do the simple things like walk to class and see people in person, and I am living for [waving] at people in Swanson Academic Center again.”

Students are not the only ones who are excited to be back on campus this year—faculty are, as well. “I like being back to in person counseling,” said Molly Pocsi, a counselor at the Counseling and Wellness Center on campus. “It’s nice to be in the same room as the person I’m talking to instead of virtual counseling—I feel connected to my colleagues and students again.”

Although many students and faculty are excited about being in-person this year, there remains some anxiety about face-to-face schooling and how to re-adjust to this newfound sense of normalcy. “I wish there was still an online option available for those who cannot make it to in person classes for a variety of reasons,” said Chloe Sandborn (‘22).

From March 2020 until now, the pandemic has altered the day-to-day life of the campus community. “I’m fine with wearing masks inside because it takes away some of the pandemic anxiety and I’m just used to it at this point,” said Maas.

On top of these changes, the transition from post-pandemic living can be difficult, especially having these heavier restrictions lifted. “I’m nervous about what the school year will bring,” said Emma VanDeusen (‘22). “COVID-19 is unpredictable, and right now, we have a good thing going for us on campus. I don’t want to mess that up.”

Through it all, students remain positive and recognize the support from their peers. “The transition from mostly online classes will be tough, but I’m so grateful to be here to enjoy my senior year with all that have supported me along the way,” said Kassama.

Amid feelings of excitement and nervousness alike, the Alma College campus has ushered in a new school year with an attempt to return to some sense of normalcy. Although masks are still required indoors, they do not need to be worn outdoors, and students can study or hang out in rooms besides their own. Whether or not these policies change remains to be seen, but only time and vigilance will tell—and the idea of more freedom is something most, if not all, of campus can get behind.

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