Saint Anselm College is welcoming back about 2,000 students to its Manchester, New Hampshire, campus starting Friday, and the safety precautions start with move-in day.
Or make that move-in days. This year, students will be divided into groups of 200 and move in over the course of 10 days to limit the number of people in one place at one time.
For seniors, this year is all they’ve got, and they can’t imagine doing it online.
“I am so glad we’re coming back, I think all of the student body feels that way,” Brendan Flaherty said.
“If we weren’t here on campus it wouldn’t be the same,” said another senior, Joe Venuti.
Lucky for them, their school is one of a few in the region bringing all of its students back to campus.
“We’ve had to reimagine everything about campus life,” Saint Anselm spokesman Paul Pronovost said.
As soon as they arrive, each student will get a rapid test for COVID-19 and will then quarantine in their dorm room.
“Once they get results, they will get a wrist band, and they’re free to walk around the campus,” Pronovost explained.
A group of volunteers put up about 7,000 signs to remind students about the proper safety precautions, he said.
Desks are six feet apart and face coverings are required in class and whenever social distancing isn’t possible.
Students are being asked not to visit other dorms or even other floors.
Many outsiders will be prevented from joining the students on campus. Starting Friday, the college is discouraging any outsiders from visiting campus, all alumni events are cancelled in the fall, students aren’t allowed to have guests and even parent visits are limited.
“We want to keep the campus as contained as possible for the fall,” Pronovost said.
It might be a back-to school bubble, but students, especially seniors, say it’s better than the alternative.
“We’re all looking out for each other because of what we saw happen to the class of 2020. I think we have a better understanding of what could happen to us,” Venuti said. “So, we’re all going to try our best to be on campus and stay on campus.”
There will be a lot of rules to follow, but it turns out campus life amid COVID does have some perks.
There will be outdoor movie nights on the quad and tents set up for outdoor dining and outdoor classes.
The first classes start Aug. 19.