by TAMARA OMER
With registration for the spring 2021 semester wrapping up, students are deciding whether or not they will be returning to on campus life.
On Oct. 6, Residential Life and Housing emailed UMW students to alert them about spring 2021’s housing application availability and process. They informed students that if they were living off campus for the fall 2020 semester, they would need to complete the housing application if they plan to return to campus in the spring.
Residence Life recommended that students complete their application sooner rather than later. The reason for this is that housing assignments are based on both room availability and the date in which students applications were received.
However, some students are worried that the uncertainty of the pandemic, and its impact on on-campus living, could be an issue for the spring semester.
“It’s just the uncertainty of not knowing what’s going to happen that’s kind of turning people off from going back on-campus,” said senior geology major Trevor Gunn. ”Just cause you never know if we’ll spike and suddenly we’ll all get sent home”
Despite the unsettling circumstances the pandemic may cause, Residence Life is continuing to plan for the spring semester.
“We will be working in partnership with the COVID Implementation Team to identify any areas that we need to focus on for the spring semester,” said David Fleming, the Assistant Dean for Residence life and housing. “Our primary focus is on making sure our move-in process works in harmony with any entry testing plans. More details will likely be available in December.”
For some students, having major required in-person classes is one of the main reasons they would decide to move back to campus.
“I am planning to return to campus because I will most likely have classes I need to take for my majors that won’t necessarily be offered remotely,” said sophomore historic preservation major Katharine Bogen.
Bogen also feels that being on campus and in-person classes could also provide a better learning experience.
“Generally speaking, I also learn better while on campus because I like the environment and being with my friends,” said Bogen.
For some, deciding to stay off campus for the spring semester had made them select solely online classes.
“Due to personal family reasons, my advisors, family and I have decided that it would be better if I stayed home this spring,” said junior historic preservation and classics major Megan Riley. “I have reorganized my schedule so I can take all online classes this spring in order to stay home.”
Another reason students have decided to return back to campus is having an environment where they can stay focused.
“I just really miss being around campus, and it’s really hard to focus at home when I’ve got everyone else at home,” said Gunn.
While being on-campus could be a health and safety concern for students, some believe that the university has taken enough measures to minimize risk and increase safety.
“Back on campus, I know that UMW has taken the pandemic seriously and thus requires everyone to take precaution,” said Bogen. “That is what I’ve been doing at home as well, so doing this back on campus won’t be a problem for me.”
It is also advised that students practice safety precautions while living on campus.
“Be vigilant in MMDC (mask, monitor, distance, and clean). It is imperative to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Fleming said.
There are also ways students could find information on the state of campus life.
“A lot of information on our website and on the COVID-19 website about what the campus environment is like.” Fleming said. “We’ve also worked with our RAs, Peer Mentors, and other student leaders to assist with campus and social engagement as well as COVID compliance.”
Even with safety guidelines and precautions being put into place, Fleming states that students should decide on whether moving back to campus is the best choice for them.
“We aren’t persuading students to live on-campus with us this year,” he said. “We are happy to outline the risk mitigation strategies that are being implemented at UMW and in the residence halls. But, each student needs to make the best decision for themselves, knowing that there isn’t any 100% environment from COVID-19 short of living completely isolated from others.”