Normally the first day of school for Stanislaus State is filled with crowds of excited faces walking to and from class. However, as students returned to campus on Friday for in-person instruction for the first time since the pandemic started, the school resembled more of a ghost town.
In August, the university delayed its return to in-person instruction until Oct. 1 due to several confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus.
“This cautionary move allows more time for the Stan State campus community to provide proper documentation for (1) vaccination, (2) documentation for exemptions and (3) documentation of testing. It also allows the campus to monitor the changes related to the Delta variant, which has infected both unvaccinated and fully vaccinated people,” said Stanislaus State President Ellen Junn in August.
In years past outside benches were prime real estate, but when students finally returned to campus on Friday only a few were occupied and there was plenty of distance between those out and about. A few students were walking with friends, but that was the only faint noise you heard as the campus was for the most part silent.
Students, faculty and staff are all required to get the COVID-19 vaccine unless they have a medical or religious exemption. If someone fails to comply with this mandate, they are not allowed to come to campus.
Some students said they are a little bit nervous about being on campus while the country is still in the middle of the pandemic.
“I think that we shouldn’t be back on campus. But I do think Stan has a good idea of doing the self-certification tests before entering class. I just think that if we are on campus, whether or not you are vaccinated, everyone should be wearing masks still,” said public health major Rosie Gonzalez.
“I didn’t really want to go back on campus because I was so used to doing everything online during the pandemic. Even though they opened up the campus, it seems like someone is always catching COVID and then they’re always opening and closing the school and I feel like that would be super stressful trying to figure out if it’s online class or in person. I honestly don’t feel like going back on campus is the right thing to do yet, maybe next year but who knows,” said junior Brenda Mendez.
Not everyone agrees that students should still be distance learning and believe that in-person instruction is necessary.
“Going into my first semester of college was exhilarating. The idea of new faces, a new campus, and the beginning of a bright future. Personally, I feel being online and not getting the opportunity of experiencing my first college semester is not only dispiriting, but also challenging as an art major. Being in person and undergoing physical classes is the best way to learn and truly get hands-on experience,” said freshman Sheylyn Pokorny.
While distance learning was an adjustment for a lot of students, it was an important resource for many to stay on track with their educational goals and limit exposure to the virus.
“I’ve never taken an online class ever but when COVID hit I was forced to and it was so stressful and overwhelming for me because I was so used to be taking in person classes and I felt like it was more stressful because when I needed help, I couldn’t just walk in the building and asked for help I’d have to make an appointment and wait a few days for a response. But now I’m getting the hang of it and pushing myself to learn things on my own,” said Mendez.