Springfield College students are gearing up for what appears to be an almost-normal fall semester, the first they’ve had since the 2019-2020 school year. However, despite transparent communications from the College throughout the summer, many may still feel anxious and confused of what COVID-19 restrictions and regulations have been put in place.
The President’s Leadership Team has stated that though many COVID restrictions have been lifted, there are still some that students must adhere to for the community to stay safe on campus this year.
Masks are required indoors for all Springfield College buildings. This also includes all classrooms, all dining areas and all residence halls. However, if a student is inside their own dorm room, they are not required to wear a mask. Masks are also not required outside, regardless of gathering size or proximity to others.
“It’s still our intention to be as normal as possible,” said Patrick Love, Associate Vice President for Administration. “At one point, it was just unvaccinated people who needed to be masked on campus indoors.
“Now we’re at a point where everyone needs to be masked up unless you are in your room. But if friends come in [your room] you’re supposed to be putting your masks on. That’s the one thing that’s kind of returned for last year,” stated Love.
Updated guidelines and recommendations from the CDC are the reason for that change.
Residence Halls/Occupancy Limits
Though students need to be masked if they are inside someone else’s room or suite, there are currently no occupancy limits for how many people can be in a room. This comes with the target of 85 percent of students being fully vaccinated, which Dean of Students Sue Nowlan and Senior Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Mary-Ann Coughlin said they believe the College will reach by the start of the semester.
Slandie Dieujuste, Vice President of Student Affairs, stated that even though she has just entered her role with the College this year, she knows the Townhouse backyards on Saturday nights are a major part of Springfield College’s social culture.
“It is still standing that students are able to be in the townhouse backyards,” said Dieujuste.
“To get through to the backyards, you actually have to get through a student residence hall. It will be the same process of just masking up when you go indoors, and then they certainly can take their mask off when they get to the backyard,” she noted.
Commuter students will also be allowed inside residence halls; however, non-Springfield College community members will not be allowed inside dorms. Non-community members can be physically on campus, including as spectators for outdoor athletic events.
COVID Testing/Contact Tracing
The weekly surveillance testing protocol that was in place for all students will not continue this semester, except for unvaccinated students. Likewise, if a vaccinated student comes into contact with a person that has tested positive, the usual contact tracing and 10-day quarantine will not ensue. However, they will need to get tested three to five days after their exposure.
Unvaccinated students will be participating in weekly testing and regular contact tracing and quarantine protocols.
Robert Yanez, Director of Residence Life, said that all of the graduate student housing was taken over last year for quarantine spaces. This year, some of that housing has been reserved for graduate students, but parts of the grad village will still be used for isolation housing.
Fully vaccinated students are not required to complete a pre-arrival COVID test, but are strongly advised to do so. Unvaccinated students and students travelling from abroad will be required to have a negative test.
All students will be tested upon arrival to campus.
Cheney Dining Hall/The Student Union
Cheney and the Union will still be offering grab-and-go meal options, but they will no longer be providing the plastic containers used last year in order to reduce the amount of needless waste. There will be a $5.00 reusable grab and go box available for students to purchase if they wish to utilize the grab-and-go option.
The Union will be reopened for dining once again, and the back-end containing the food court and Subway will be open for students to enter and order their food in-person. Students will also be able to enjoy their meals at the tables inside the Union, a change from the no-eating restrictions from last year.
Annie Warchol, Director of Student Activities and the Union, said the only unfortunate circumstance is the Union will not be able to stay open late into the night as it did pre-pandemic.
“[The Union] will be closing at midnight because of staffing. We just don’t have enough people at the moment to staff late night, so I think food is ending around 11:00 p.m. every night… We kept the tables a little bit spread out to accommodate more people to sit down there,” said Warchol.
“When the weather’s nice, we’re going to be opening up the sliding door on the patio. They are bringing over more patio furniture, we have picnic tables out there in front of the Union Adirondack chairs…” she added.
Now that occupancy limits are removed, Warchol and Yanez look forward to hosting many indoor and outdoor events through student activities and residence life that won’t require a sign-up beforehand. This includes welcoming back the food trucks and larger-scale activities.
“We are going to be hammocking on all of the trees outside on the Admin Green to give people some areas to hang out… we set up the volleyball and that’s closer to Abbey-Appleton Hall,” said Warchol.
New Student Orientation, Pre-Camp and Cultural Connections will be happening this year, and Warchol said Welcome Week will be filled with activities all day long for students to get back in the spirit.
“Most of our stuff we’re going to be doing outdoors, because we feel like people are going to want to participate and get involved and be outside,” Warchol added.
For the most part, it appears that Springfield College will be transitioning into the “new normal” as smoothly as possible. Students can expect communications about events, activities, and updates from the administration as the semester progresses. The President’s Leadership Team is in agreement that the situation is fluid, and they are prepared to alter regulations as circumstances change for the safety and betterment of the community.
Photo Courtesy Springfield College Marketing & Communications