“Back to WAC”: What to expect when coming back to campus for the spring semester

By Kaitlin Dunn

Elm Staff Writer 

As Washington College’s quarantine comes to an end, and the spring semester officially starts, many students may begin to feel overwhelmed with some of the changes that this semester brings. 

Unlike last semester, where a vast majority of students were attending classes virtually and had to fit Zoom classes into their schedules, around 400 students are back on campus this semester, and with this, comes many new things that must be added into one’s routine. 

WC has adopted the COVID-19 contingency plan, “Better Together,” outlining ways for students, staff and faculty members to safely be on campus together again this semester.

This plan included a mandatory two-week quarantine for all students upon arrival on campus, and gateway testing when entering and leaving quarantine.

Following the quarantine period, the College has outlined procedures set in place to ensure a safe semester and to mitigate any outbreaks of COVID-19 on campus, which includes bi-weekly surveillance testing, daily usage of the Emocha app, and scheduled meal and JFC usage times.

For the bi-weekly COVID-19 testing, students choose a date and time at their second gateway COVID-19 test. Testing is done at the Roy Kirby Stadium, and test scheduling and rescheduling can be done by contacting Health Services.

The Emocha app is another addition to the changes for this semester. Students are required to complete the Emocha symptom and temperature check in every day.

“The […] thing is to view Emocha and the testing as just two elements of the safety plan. Add to those the regular adherence to the mask wearing, the distancing… the hand washing, etc. and it’s a great plan,” Vice President of Student Affairs Sarah Feyerherm said. “But you have to do all of it.”

For some, it might be easier to set an alarm for Emocha, or to get into the habit of completing it at a certain time every day so they do not forget.

“My best advice is for students who are on campus or accessing campus is to build the testing and Emocha attestation into your routine so you do it every day. Maybe you put a sign on your mirror that says ‘have you filled out Emocha today?’ or some sort of visual reminder,” Feyerherm said.

Additionally, students now have scheduled meal times for each day this semester to further support social distancing procedures in Hodson Hall.

For all classes, things may look a bit different in how they are maintaining balance and setting up their schedules this semester.

“It’s definitely been a big adjustment, very different from what I was expecting,” freshman Ashley Kreitz said. “Personally…writing everything down that I have to do every day has definitely been a big help.” 

“With all of the different times I have to remember I would definitely forget if I didn’t have them written down somewhere. I actually just wrote down my meal times for when quarantine is over,” she said.

Senior Doug Kurtz also said how this semester has been different for him in comparison to others, and how he has worked these changes into his schedule. 

“I’m maintaining balance by doing internal check-ins regularly and trying to do mindful things that I know work for me, like meditating and reflecting at the end of the day,” Kurtz said. 

Despite the changes that are in place for this semester, keeping a routine and being aware of what you need as an individual will make this semester and its changes that much easier and safer.    

Featured Photo caption: As the spring semester begins, and as another new chapter unfolds, our writer Kaitlin Dunn explores what students who have come back to campus can do to ensure a smooth transition to their college experiences. Photo by Marah Vain-Callahan.

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