After three weeks of fully remote learning, University of Mary Washington students began moving into residence halls – and bringing the fall semester to life – last week.
Under the clouds of overcast skies and a global pandemic, UMW’s delayed four-day “move-in” played out much like – and unlike – it has in years past. More than 1,700 undergraduates and their family members, wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing, toted boxes and bins, posters and pillows, fridges and food, into their new homes on campus.
“This semester might look a little different, but it will be a great one if we all work together and MMDC!” UMW President Troy Paino tweeted Wednesday, on the eve of first-year students’ Thursday arrival. He was unable to step into residence hall rooms and help erect lofts, as he has done in the past, but he greeted cars on Double Drive and roamed the campus checking in on families.
Signs across campus serve as reminders to “MMDC”—monitor, mask, distance and clean – and socialize responsibly, limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people, as part of UMW’s comprehensive Return to Campus Plan.
In-person and hybrid classes will run through Nov. 20, with all courses returning to a remote format after Thanksgiving break as the semester winds down.
“For those of you who will be continuing with classes [fully] remotely, know that your presence is missed but you are ever present in our hearts and minds,” COVID-19 Co-coordinators, Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken and Associate Provost for Academic Engagement and Student Success Tim O’Donnell, wrote in an email to students on Sunday.
Administrators are counting on adherence to meticulous plans put in place after months of diligent effort and conferring with other university administrators. With lessons learned from other schools and a compliant campus community, the goals is to keep the fall semester on track.
“There’s no perfect amid a pandemic,” Paino said in an editorial published in The Free Lance-Star last week. “But we’ve done the best we can to keep health and safety front and center.”