NATIONAL (CBS Newspath) – Colleges across the country are trying new ways to re-open campuses while protecting students from COVID-19. But the campuses students are returning to will look very different.
Like many schools, Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania has done a top-to-bottom overhaul to welcome students back safely. “It has been a massive undertaking,” says Dean of Students Allison Gulati.
She says the school plans to bring more than 1,600 students back to campus. There are hygiene stations in many buildings on campus. “Folks can pick up extra masks, get hand sanitizer, tissues, anything they might need,” Gulati says. Classrooms have been revamped. “What used to be a 30-person classroom is now, you know, a 10 to 15-person classroom,” Gulati says.
Students will also be tested regularly on campus and they’ll need symptom checks to use common spaces. Dining halls will operate at partial capacity with plexiglass on tables. The college has also created spaces like a fire pit where students can socialize outside.
The school is trying to give them as much of a normal college experience as possible.
Muhlenberg sophomore Allison Mintz has been a virtual student for nearly a year. But next week, she’s finally going back to college in person. “I am so excited to get back on campus, it’s been a very long time,” she says. Mintz is glad she’ll be able to move back into the dorms. “I feel very safe with the quarantine measures, and the testing, and everything that’s being done to keep us safe,” she says.
Parents might ask, can bringing students back be done safely? Gulati says, “I do think that it’s very possible, but it takes a community effort.” College administrators say these plans only work if students follow the rules and avoid large gatherings both on and off campus.