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COVID-19 prematurely forces Springfield College into remote learning

Irene Rotondo

Devoid of life, Springfield College’s campus now sits in silence in the midst of its Fall 2020 semester.

It’s an eerily similar scene to just a few months back in March, where students were rushed from their dorms back into the safety of their homes, lest they contract the Coronavirus.

Students were informed the rest of their semester would be online on October 30, 2020 at noon. President Mary-Beth Cooper stated in her email to the campus body, “Despite our best efforts, the recent increase in COVID-19 cases and contacts has exceeded our structure for managing the virus. Our quarantine and isolation spaces are at maximum capacity. With the uncertainty of future cases and our commitment to maintain the safety of our campus, we have made the decision to accelerate our planned switch to remote learning now through the end of the semester and establish a one week shelter-in-place protocol for students on campus.”

The news rocked every single person connected to Springfield College’s world. Of course, the shelter-in-place protocol and switch to remote learning wasn’t exactly unexpected — cases have been climbing rapidly over the past few weeks on campus, various dorms have been in and out of quarantine periods, and other colleges and universities have been going online.

It was only a matter of time until the seemingly impermeable campus was officially under COVID-19 regime.

However, expected the event may have been, there was no way to lessen the blow of yet another semester coming to an early end; students had been feeling the dark cloud of possibility for remote-learning over their heads for weeks, and their worst fears had been finally confirmed.

The majority of students returned home — while there isn’t an exact estimate of those still remaining on campus, it’s clear to anybody who is still there just how many students are gone.

One could feasibly walk all the way from International Hall, across campus, and to the Townhouses and Suites, without seeing more than two other people.

The large white tent seated in the center of the Admin Green is dark inside without tables or computers, every parking lot boasts dirt and empty spots, and buildings that are usually full of life now stay silent and cold.

For those who chose to remain on campus, life really has been anything but normal. Students are not allowed inside any buildings on campus (including the Wellness Center) other than the Learning Commons, Cheney Dining Hall, and the Union for grab and go dining only. This means all food from Cheney and the Union must be taken back to students’ dorms or eaten outside.

COVID-19 surveillance testing has been continued as scheduled for those on campus, with students arriving at the outdoor testing site in their particular time slot every other week.

Fortunately, there have been no recorded cases of COVID by Springfield College since the students returned home. Those who tested positive prior to the shutdown are still currently in quarantine either at their homes or on campus.

To top it all off, the 2020 Presidential Election began Nov. 3. As one of the most polarized and consequential elections in U.S. history, it’s a given that many students had planned on voting.

For some, it was also the very first election they were eligible to vote in. Stress levels were already high to begin with, and students were tasked to choose the next leader of their country, while bringing home all of their belongings, and attempting to at least come to terms with another college semester being ripped away.

Needless to say, it has been a very rough fall semester for Springfield students. The one thing that will set them apart from students at other colleges is their undying resilience and drive to do well.

Springfield College students come from backgrounds of strength and high morality, and these attributes have only been solidified by their core pillars of Spirit, Mind, and Body. If anyone can endure the insanity, it’s Springfield College students.

Photo Courtesy of Joe Arruda

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