This year, college at Northern State University in Aberdeen has so far been a little different. Students still find themselves rushing to class, but often, they rush back to grab their forgotten mask. Despite the importance of wearing a mask in the dormitory and in class, not to mention off-campus employment, it is still hard to remember. It feels abnormal even though it has been enforced since the first day.
One noticeable difference on campus is class attendance. Classmates are missing more often due to exposure to COVID. Some even just feel uncomfortable enough to not attend class. To accommodate everyone, all classes are hybrid classes, so they can be attended online or in person. Students who do get sick or do not feel comfortable with class can stay where they are and still be successful in attaining their degrees. Most classes have Zoom available as well.
In the classroom all the desks are spread out, and the class sizes are small. There are no group projects. During lectures everyone is scattered six feet apart. When the teachers say “you may talk among yourselves,” it is almost impossible as students would have to nearly shout to talk to anyone in the classroom.
Germex dispensers are located by every door in all of the buildings.
Instead of actually eating in the dining halls and around campus, students choose to eat meals in their dorm rooms. “To go” boxes are handed out in the cafeteria in hopes of people not gathering to eat there.
Homecoming week is approaching, but most of the activities, like the parade, have already been cancelled. To prevent large gatherings, sports will not happen until spring semester.
Most are happy with all the precautions that Northern has taken and how seriously they work to ensure that all students stay safe while continuing their education on campus.
“College this year has been different than I expected it to be due to COVID, but I am making the most of it and having such a fun time,” said Kearra Elkins, a 2020 De Smet graduate who is attending NSU for the first time.
Students at other South Dakota universities are also happy to be on campus.
“This year things are a lot different,” stated Lexie Larsen, a former Lake Preston High School student who is in her second year at South Dakota State University. “Masks are required in every building, and there are fewer places to eat. It’s hard to make new friends in classes because you have to sit so far apart, but we just need to make the best of it. I’m just happy we’re back at college!”
“College sure is different this year,” added Tara Scheidt, a former Laker Preston Diver now attending Black Hills State University. “Masks are required everywhere. Class sizes are smaller, and everyone in the class has to social distance. There are not as many hands-on or group activities in class. Some classes have even fully moved to online. There are just so many things that are different this year, but at least changes were made so that we can still go to school and work on getting our degrees.”