For Bailey Reinhart, the return to in-person courses this fall at the University of Guelph-Humber has been bittersweet, like returning to an old home or apartment that’s familiar yet changed.
“I learn a lot better in person, so I’m really happy to be back into the educational work environment,” the third-year media studies student said.
“That being said, it’s sad to see how dead the campus has become,” Reinhart said. “All the food places are closed and you never see people hanging around anymore.”
The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 saw nearly all classes move online and campus life nearly disappear. In-person classes resumed this fall under strict protocols and a new vaccination policy.
For many students, the return to campus is their first time back in the school buildings after a long hiatus. Others are seeing it in person for the first time.
Reinhart is not alone in reacting to the new look of life at Humber, where students and staff are happy to see classmates’ faces — even if half-covered by masks.
Klea Santiago, a Guelph-Humber third-year media studies student, was excited to talk to classmates face-to-face once again, even if the reopening falls far short of returning to normal.
“I get to see actual people and not through the screen, real-time conversations with professors about questions after or before classes without having to worry about responding through emails,” Santiago said.
Meanwhile, Logan Fargo, a sustainable energy student at Humber College, lamented the end of attending online classes in pyjamas with little concern for hair or grooming.
“As nice as it is to not have to do group projects over Blackboard, I do kinda miss only having to get up 15 minutes before class, having a coffee, and just turning on my computer,” Fargo said.
“My routine is very different for in-person classes, I gotta get ready and pack all my things needed for class,” he said. “For online, I don’t have to get ready at all, I can just roll out of bed and attend class without having to do anything beforehand.”
For first-year and second-year students coming to campus for the first time, their introduction to Humber has been mostly virtual and lacking the conviviality of past years. But health and safety remains the chief concern in the reopening.
Kelsey Williams, a Guelph-Humber student, noted the pandemic protocols had resulted in a pared-down frosh week for first-year students, but applauded the principle of putting safety first.
“I think it’s the safest option possible,” Williams said. “It’s better than not doing anything and safer than having thousands of students in a venue all at once.”