Fall tends to bring around a sense of the familiar for many students and families. A new beginning lies ahead in the academic year with routines reinstated, the comfort of a new season, and memories of prior years with us. Some may even mark it as a period of growth, witnessing how far they’ve come both mentally and physically. This year, Husky Nation came back together in a new way with echoes of our prior experiences as we created a thoughtful, staggered return.
A fresh beginning
Registration took place over four days last week, with one class each arriving daily. Students, parents, and faculty alike commented on the calmer pace. While in years past we hosted two half-day registrations with a rigorous afternoon and evening schedule each day, this year families had a more personal one-on-one experience. Though this change was a necessary measure based on the pandemic, it eased many into a space that felt personalized as they had their questions answered, and their names well-known in advance due to the sign-up procedures.
From the frequent scheduled calls this summer with families and students, there were many things evident. First, for returning families, we knew we were all eager to be together again. Second, we knew that providing time and safety to reintroduce our community to campus would be key. The resulting schedule of both registration and orientation allowed for safety and calmness to take the edge off of this transition. Soon, the remaining students in campus quarantine from overseas and long-range domestic travel will rejoin their community fully, leading to an additional sense of normalcy in a unique fall.
With abundant sunshine and crisp fall-like weather on many recent days, our students and the adult-community members eagerly spend time outdoors. The Student Life Office organized the flow of move-in days with options for both indoor and outdoor activities, always with an eye toward the need for health and safety measures. Huskies engaged in pickleball on the tennis courts, hiking on Burleigh Mountain, volleyball, trivia and movie nights, yoga, lawn games, softball, broomball, bingo, kickball, soccer, late morning brunches and pancake breakfasts, and more. Another favorite of our students is time together around one of the available campfires on campus. S’mores, roasted marshmallows, and time together around a hearth are always great for conversation and relaxation.
Traditional elements of orientation weekend continued with focused times for advisory group activities, as well as our annual Convocation ceremony. Additionally, each student and faculty member moved through all of their academic blocks (seven total) in short, introductory versions, in order to prepare all students with the locations of their classrooms and to meet their teachers and classmates.
Masks, dining, and refinements
We continue to refine many of our procedures. With our mask procedures, we remind not only our full community about the importance of masking up but also the importance of distanced mask breaks and water breaks. We know it is an adjustment for many after months of practicing social distancing, and perhaps only wearing masks when leaving home for essentials or short excursions. We know that our safety precautions are the best way to protect our community so that we can remain together and support each other’s health.
Our entire faculty and staff teams continue onward to smooth out procedures in other areas, from dining to athletics, and co-curriculars to remote and in-person classroom delivery. Mindfulness, mask breaks, and self-care are at the forefront of our approach to a healthier community. Our first days are now complete, and we are excited for the fall ahead. Thank you for your support, Huskies, and welcome home!