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Non-New England students face unique obstacles returning amid pandemic

Cait Kemp

As the wake of the pandemic roars on, some colleges and universities have made the decision to welcome students back on campus, using a combination of in-person and remote learning opportunities. Springfield College students are lucky to be some of the few with a somewhat normal back to school schedule. Despite the normalcy that going back to school may allow, this offers challenges for many students. 

Springfield College is home to students from all over the world. This causes complications when the topic of staying at school for the whole semester is in question. Traveling to and from campus during a world-wide pandemic is a major issue. It is something that many students are going to have to deal with, but they take that risk in order to be back at their home away from home on Alden Street.

The chance that the virus worsens will loom large over the fall semester, continuing to put the chance of getting sent home in question. Sophomore Liam York, who will be making the trip to Springfield from Kailua, Hawaii is someone who would be greatly affected if students were to be sent home early. 

“It is tough, but for my own sanity I just kind of can’t worry about things that are out of my control,” he said. 

Fellow classmate Abby Wright of Manhattan Beach, Calif. will also have a long commute and shares the same concern over leaving early and making the long trip home. “That’s a fear that it’ll happen because it’s just so unknown,” Wright said. “But I’m definitely so ready to be back on campus.”

The theme of eagerness is common for many students at SC, especially for incoming freshmen. “I’m excited to get out of the disaster here (Sloatsburg, N.Y.), I really do hope we stay for a while because at least in Massachusetts it’s more open. Here you can’t really do anything,” said incoming freshman and field hockey recruit Gillian Dube. For these freshmen, getting a full first year of college is far from guaranteed.

“For our class, we were hit really hard with Corona. I am a spring sport athlete too, so our spring sports got taken away… out of nowhere we were getting so much false hope,” Dube said. “Of course it is a little nerve racking seeing how many people were affected around us, but I really do hope we get some part of our freshman year.” 

With many students returning to Alden Street, there are a number of guidelines and regulations that are new to everyone on campus. “I’m not so worried about the adjustments because I feel like it’s pretty clear,” Wright stated. “Everything is going to be different from how it was before obviously, I’m just so excited to be able to be back.” 

New rules will be challenging to become accustomed to and will only be effective if all students commit to following them. “I’m just hoping that everyone stays safe, as much as it’s hard… I just hope we can come together and realize if we want to stay on campus we really need to practice social distancing and wearing a mask,” York said. “I’d rather do that and be able to stay on campus and have in-person classes.”

Although students will physically be on campus, they will still take a combination of online and in-person classes. Remote learning is another obstacle that the Springfield community will have to overcome and adapt to. “I know it’s something we’ll all have to adjust to, so I hope it’s something we can all adjust to pretty easily,” Dube said. 

For some, online classes are not so intimidating. “Honestly, I really like the idea of having my bigger lectures online because that works so much better for me than sitting in a classroom with 60 other kids trying to learn,” Wright said. Of course, online class is much more enjoyable on-campus than thousands of miles away at home.

Besides academics, athletics is a huge part of many Springfield students’ lives. Both York and Wright travel far to play for the Pride volleyball teams, while Dube was recruited this year for field hockey. “We put so much time and effort overall… we really built all year long, so it is tough to train so hard and then have it taken away from you,” York said about the 2020 season being cancelled this past spring. 

The threat of cancellation for the 2021 spring season still looms ahead, while for fall athletes, they’ve already been given their bad news. “It’s horrible for any athlete, especially I feel so bad for the seniors… but at least we get to practice,” Dube expressed. “At this point, I feel like you just have to find the positives in the situation, because there’s so much negative around us.” 

Not knowing what could happen is the most challenging thing to grasp, but students are willing to encounter that. “Best case scenario everything is fine and we stay until November. That’s what I have my fingers crossed for,” Wright said. Crossed fingers will remain, as the Springfield College community will work together in order to endure this pandemic as one. 

For these students, scrambling to book flights for the long trip home is a scenario they hope to not have to face until the scheduled move out date in November.

Photo: CDC

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