COVID Still Affecting Campus Life and Students

Alyssa Stegura, Journalist

Campus life is still dealing with the effects of COVID but it is not all negative.

While campus is busier than last year, there are changes to campus and campus life that are impacting students and faculty.

One big change is the indoor mask policy for everyone regardless of vaccination status. Many students said the mask policy is a positive protection for all and are happy to wear them. “The classroom mask policy is a great thing, as it protects not only myself, but my peers and faculty,” said Senior Nursing major Danielle Chee.

Students like Senior Speech Language Pathology Major Kayleen Stone and Senior Psychology Majoy Karrie Baker said the mask policy is a huge reassurance that they are safe and protected so they can stay on campus.

COVID has affected enrollment to the in the years 2020 and 2021 due to the inability of campus tours being conducted in person said Kit Foley, Special Assistant to the President for Student Life, who focuses on Cougar Care support to manage COVID-19 on campus.

Returning to all in-person classes has seen an uptick in resident students returning to campus. “Student retention was excellent so the majority of students who attended Misericordia during the 20-21 academic year did return this fall.About 96% of students who selected a room at lottery returned to campus this fall” said Foley.

For Foley, COVID has her cultivating new ways to interact with students. She thanks social media, Zoom, and other platforms as a help in getting through. Due to her previous role as Vice President of Student Life she had learned to innovate more ways to interact and she loves to see campus back to being full again.

Foley said the mask mandate allows for more in-person interaction. “I think it’s important to continue to be open to new and different ways to interact so we can make sure we are meeting needs and everyone is included,” she said.

Despite the challenges COVID presents with interacting with students, Foley is looking at the positives. “COVID enabled me to interact on a deeper level with some students, especially working with someone in need,” she said.

More events are being held to help students get involved, which is bringing out lots of people and helping to build stronger friendships.

“It was great to do the Pancakes with the President again and be able to sit with my friends and talk while enjoying pancakes. I was so ecstatic to see so many at the event. I felt campus is back,” said Chee.

Foley’s favorite campus activity is “Welcome Week, Cash Cab!” She loves driving the students around as it is a great way to interact with them.

While campus is more active this semester with precautions in place, many students will never forget that first in-person class.

“The first day back was surreal. It was great to be back in a physical classroom, but it hit me that this is my last year and I’m experiencing it distant and, in a mask, this isn’t ideal for anyone, but I’m making the best of it and giving all the credit to all professors who are trying their hardest to make it as normal as possible,” said Senior Mass Communication and Design Major, Bethany Jopling.

Chee felt being back to the first class was weird, but she was happy to be with her peers and professors. Stone said she has adjusted well to being back with the only downside wearing the mask for 2 ½ hour classes.

“As a community, we have to continue to care about each other. We have a responsibility to keep each other safe and healthy. Please follow the protocols established by the university,” said Foley.

Foley remarks “It is very important to remember that COVID is still fluid and the university may have to make changes or adaptations depending on what is happening on campus and in our country.”