By Sofia Paglioni
Walls are plastered with stickers about social distancing, COVID-19 signs line the walls and chairs are few and literally far between. Over the past year, Samford University completely reinvented the college experience. In the midst of a pandemic, college students adapted with social distancing and masks while grieving the loss of normality.
Students have to balance a global pandemic and academic expectations all while simply trying to manage their social life and mental health. Student organizations have had to do a complete overhaul of how they approach their activities, including Zoom chapter meetings for Greek Life, Samford Theatre rehearsing productions with masks and socially distanced worship nights for various small groups.
With the collective effort of students, staff, faculty and Samford’s COVID-19 team, Samford has every expectation to return to normal operations in fall 2021. In a university-wide message sent out at the beginning of March, Samford announced it “anticipates a return to full in-person instruction, athletic and arts events and social activities.”
Compliance aside, students are eager to get back to the normal college experience.
“I am ecstatic to have a normal semester next fall,” sophomore Alexa Smith said.
Samford professors and staff are also excited to return to the normal Samford experience next semester.
“We have announced plans for a fall semester that looks and feels like the Samford experience we’ve all grown to love over our 180-year history,” Executive Vice President Buck Brock said in an email.
Brock has been at the forefront of Samford’s COVID-19 efforts and has been in constant contact with the Samford community via email updates.
Normal operations include a return to regular cafeteria seating, Greek life events, student organization events and more in-person classes. Normal operations will also include a collective sigh of relief from the Samford community, knowing that they can see friends and enjoy campus life without any added anxiety from the pandemic.
Along with the encouraging news, the COVID-19 team is urging the Samford community to continue wearing masks, encourage social distancing and simply push through to the end of this semester. On-campus vaccination clinics also opened up to provide students with the option of receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
The optimism, of course, comes with a caveat. In the same announcement, Samford pointed out that “the COVID-19 pandemic remains a fluid situation,” meaning “plans are subject to change as local state and national health guidance evolves.”
Whatever the next semester holds, the Samford community can take pride in the fact that even during the hardest times, students and staff can work together to overcome difficulty.