There’s no question that this semester of college will be vastly different from anything we’ve ever experienced or even imagined. With two years of college under my belt, I felt prepared and excited for my transition from Northeast to a university. However, it is now going to be an entirely new experience for everyone this year, so that feeling of preparedness has flown out the window.

College students everywhere are feeling this way. “Will we be allowed to participate in any social events?” “What will living in a dorm be like with the new restrictions?” “Will we be sent home again?”

The questions are endless, even with the start of the semester only a matter of days away. The excitement of reuniting with friends and making new ones, attending events and games, and exploring places around town has turned to nervousness and fear.

All the new protocols and regulations will rule out any of those things we were looking forward to. We know it’s necessary, but it’s still hard to imagine how college will have any sense of normalcy.

Protocol will vary amongst all colleges, but there are a few things that are certain across the board. All students and faculty will be required to wear a mask at all times in public, keep a distance of six feet from others, and immediately quarantine for two weeks after testing positive for COVID-19.

Other, more specific rules might differ across the state or country, and are likely to change as the semester progresses, but my school, Delta State, has put out a detailed list of protocols in preparation for the start of the semester on August 17th. A lot of time and effort has been put into ensuring that the campus is ready for the return of students in the safest manner possible.

Besides the standard regulations mentioned before, any student who has been in contact with someone who tested positive must also quarantine for fourteen days, even if that person tests negative. Those who tested positive will be placed into an apartment complex to quarantine, when it is not at capacity. Once it reaches full capacity, students will be sent home to quarantine. After a person tests positive, all locations that person has visited within the last 24-48 hours will be closed for deep cleaning.

To have a little bit of the normal fun of returning to school, daily events are scheduled for Welcome Week, students’ first week back on campus. Some events will be held in person in several locations across campus, but will require social distancing and masks. When it is not possible to spread participants across several locations, there will be a certain amount of students allowed into the event, with those not included in person joining via ZOOM.

The next few weeks of students heading back to campus will be very different from years past, but I trust that our colleges will keep safety as the number one priority. This semester will be an entirely new experience for everyone, but we can still make the most of it!

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