OLIVIA PAPP ’23
Over the past year and a half, communities scattered around the world have faced stress, sadness, and much loss while the coronavirus ripped across the globe. People all around the world patiently waited for vaccines to come out that would combat the virus, all while dreaming of going back to school in-person, reconnecting with grandparents, and gathering once more. As we embark on the looming semester during this fall of 2021, for the first time in less than a year and a half, students, teachers, and families alike are mostly happy by the slight return to normalcy. As students arrived back at Trinity to start their academic year, it soon became apparent that a few COVID-19 related restrictions had been lifted. Some are pleased by the new changes, but some are anxious about the remaining restrictions and are impatient to return to how things always were.
Alyce Segal ’23, shared her thoughts on the new COVID-19-related changes: “It was difficult in more way than one to lose a full year of my Trinity experience to covid restrictions on campus. Since almost everyone is vaccinated now, I’m willing to take the risk with the lesser covid restrictions if it means things can be more normal. Now, there is more opportunity for larger social gatherings. The biggest example of social gatherings is being able to eat with my friends in the Mather Dining Hall,” Segal recounted that she has “loved being able to see other people and chat with them as well in Mather.”
It was certainly more difficult to socialize on campus given the COVID-19 restrictions in place last year, however, the student body recognizes how necessary the restrictions were to keep us all safe and healthy amidst the pandemic.
Sophia Malenfant ’23 shared, “The other day I was walking to one of my classes on the long walk and happened upon a professor I had not seen in person since 2019. It was great and surreal to chat with her for a few minutes. I realized later that this encounter was not something I would have been able to do last year. I am beyond grateful that the atmosphere at Trinity feels like it is returning to some pre-COVID normalcy.”
Of course, while the majority of Americans have been vaccinated, it is still important to be wearing masks and doing the best job possible to respect social distance rules inside. It is important to be aware that the virus still exists and to follow school implemented procedures, like the random selection COVID-19 surveillance testing the college has implemented.
Another substantial change has been the transition from zoom classes to in-person classes. Some students on campus are elated by the new change while others sometimes long for the leisurely atmosphere that zoom classes may have provided before.
“Everyone has been on zoom for the past year and it seems most people are very used to zoom. Honestly, it has been a bit difficult to transition back to in-person classes. Having tried both, it seems in-person classes are a bit more intimidating, but I am grateful to start to get back into the swing of things,” said Malenfant.
Segal noted that the shift back to in-person learning has been an adjustment, relaying that “in-person classes are much more exhausting than remote classes because you can’t just turn your camera off. Rather, in in-person classes, you must be engaged at all times and interactive at all times with your classmates and the professor.”
In the frigid New England cold weather, it is difficult at times to get ready for class and make the trek across campus to attend class as opposed to rolling out of bed and opening your laptop for remote class, but the new return to normalcy has been something all students have been looking forward to for the past year. Segal added that she enjoys in-person classes more than remote ones because “you get to meet more of your classmates and can obtain a greater understanding of the materials presented to you in class. It is also much easier to track down your professors in person, as you can ask brief clarifying questions rather than having to go to their specific in-person office hours.”
Another change that the Trinity administration has decided as we start to move towards more familiar modes of living is phasing out J-term with no additional tuition cost.
“I think what Trinity did was very considerate for Trinity to offer students J-term classes for free during such a stressful time. I think while this January is the last term the administration is offering the classes for free, the J-term and Summer Sessions should have no additional cost since technically we are still not out of the pandemic,” said Malenfant.
Having these sessions outside of the regular fall and spring academic semesters allows students to take more classes that are of interest to students, both within and outside of their major, without having to pay any additional.
The last, and arguably the most noticeable change, the Trinity administration has made to COVID-19 related regulations is relaxing the COVID-19 testing schedule. As opposed to last year, students now do not need to stress about missing a twice a week scheduled test.
“This new COVID-19 testing system allows students to [adhere to the] honor code [in order to determine] whether they feel sick or not. It is nerve-wrecking being tested twice a week, because even if you are not subjecting yourself to places where you could contract COVID-19, it still is possible [to contract the virus] and additionally, it is a very stressful process to be tested twice a week,” said Segal.