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As colleges and universities prepare for the new school year, they also plan to resume face-to-face welcome weeks for freshmen and returning students.

Due to the pandemic, after more than a year of virtual welcome week, student affairs administrators have been busy organizing and arranging face-to-face activities. However, even while preparing students to enter campus, as the infection rate of the more easily spreading coronavirus delta variant continues to climb, institutions across the country are revising or restoring their vaccination and shelter requirements and increasing Vaccination intensity.

University of Texas at Austin Announced all students last week You will need to be tested for COVID-19 before the first day of class, but you will not need to wear a mask or get vaccinated.

Suseth Muñoz, the senior and vice chairman of the Senate of UT Austin University Council-a department of the student government-has some concerns about the return of Longhorn Welcome to normal, as the university’s orientation week is called.

Muñoz said: “Seeing these events will see a large number of people coming in and out, which is terrible.” “Fortunately, many of them are outside, but I can personally say that I will try to avoid Some activities that I know will attract a large number of people.”

The university’s COVID-19 Modeling Alliance is a network of researchers and health professionals that build models to detect, predict, and combat COVID-19. Published a report It was predicted on August 11 that if “active” testing measures are not taken or students do not wear masks indoors, thousands of UT students may be infected during the fall semester.

The report estimates that if the vaccination rate remains around 60% and active testing is not implemented, 57% of UT students have been fully vaccinated, and the prevalence of COVID-19 throughout the fall semester is expected. “Then the prevalence of symptomatic infections is expected to peak between 90 and 320 (median: 180), and the total number of infections in the fall semester will be between 5,000 and 16,300 (median: 11,200),” The report pointed out.

“Usually, this will be an important activity for students to connect and feel welcome on campus,” Muñoz said. “But for now, I think these activities will become a hub that may not be the safest space, especially when we can’t force the wearing of masks.”

Muñoz said that UT should follow the leadership of the University of Texas at San Antonio and offer all virtual courses in the first three weeks of the semester.

She said: “They can…use these few weeks to figure out what their costs will be, how many people actually come to campus, and make a plan that can actually ensure the safety of most students on campus. “

Need to “rotate”

Kayleigh Damphousse, Longhorn Welcome’s transition coordinator, said her team encourages wearing masks in crowded spaces indoors and outdoors, and promotes University Health Service Guidance.

“We just want to encourage our campus partners to incorporate these guidelines into their activities. Does this mean’we can hold events outside, but usually indoors?” or’Can we think about spacing? ‘” Damphousse said.

Damphosse has been planning Longhorn Welcome since January, but her team aims to remain flexible as the path of the pandemic changes unexpectedly.

“We are very excited and happy to say hello to our students, but we know that things can change at any time, so we kind of wait for whether things will change and think about backup plans as we move forward,” Demps said.

Although most of Longhorn Welcome’s activities will be face-to-face, Damphousse said that the university will provide virtual activities such as treasure hunts, games and virtual job fairs.

Muñoz said that almost all Welcome Week events sponsored by the University Council’s Senate will be in a mixed format, and the organization encourages students who have not been vaccinated or wear masks to participate in these events virtually.

Alison Leach Hughes, associate dean of students at Florida State University, stated that planning for orientation week and welcome week also means adapting to changing COVID guidelines.

“This absolutely requires us to be flexible,” Leach Hughes said. “The name of our office is Freshmen and Family Projects. Sometimes we jokingly say that we are flexible projects for freshmen. We have to maintain this level of adaptability and willingness, because of the lack of better terminology, to turn to.”

Florida has hosted nearly two weeks of welcome activities, including karaoke, outdoor block parties, games, etc. Although the university does not require masks or vaccines, It provides vaccination rewards for students Examples include gift cards, iPads, a $3,500 tuition and miscellaneous subsidy, and the use of luxury suites at the Tucker Civic Center where sports and other events are held.

Edwin Darrell, FSU’s Director of Residential Student Experience, said that he believes that “our students are doing the right thing to truly protect themselves and their peers.” He said that the campus has a policy for students to wear masks. Expect that most activities will be outside. Darrell added that, if necessary, the Welcome Week program will be conducted under the guidance of the FSU Board of Directors.

Darrell said: “We are still encouraging, and we hope that students who participate in any of our indoor activities will wear masks.” “Then for outdoor activities, we strongly encourage students to continue to wear masks and follow the Florida Health Advisory and CDC recommendations. All mitigation measures.”

As part of Welcome Week, the university will host a virtual job fair and a mix of virtual and face-to-face student participation. The university also offers students a self-guided tour of the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee.

“All our courses, whether it is academic, social, or cultural courses, provide face-to-face programming and activity options, but they also pay great attention to the flexibility of providing virtual hybrid options,” Darrell said.

San Jose State University and San Jose, California are Host city-wide events Not only students are welcome to the campus, but also students are welcome to the San Jose community. A university press release described the institution’s “long-term and deep relationship with the city of San Jose and a strong commitment to the community”. The university also sponsored a “SJSU Loves SJ” program to promote connections between students and local community members, including the lighting ceremony of the city hall tower and rotunda, and the flag-raising ceremony of the city hall.

“This will be one of the most anticipated fall semesters we have seen at SJSU,” the principal Mary Papazian said in a statement. “Although there is still uncertainty and even anxiety for some people, I believe that we will survive the difficulties together as a campus and a community. Back on campus and back to the city center to live, we will experience the happiness and vitality It will be something we have never seen before.”

The university requires students living in campus dormitories to be fully vaccinated and sign a COVID-19 safety agreement confirmation, and agree to abide by these regulations before moving in. Students who have not been vaccinated or have not signed a confirmation are “not allowed to move into campus dormitories. The university also requires masks to be worn in campus facilities or in shared vehicles in university-sponsored events.

Indiana University requirements Vaccines for students and employeesAnd there is a Regardless of the vaccination status, a mask must be worn in indoor spacesSarah Nagy, Senior Associate Director of the University’s Office of Experience Programs for the First Year, said that the program of Welcome Week follows the guidelines of the university, the Centers for Disease Control and the Indiana Department of Health.

She said that the Welcome Week event will start on Monday and will include an outdoor concert with pop star Charli XCX, which can be adjusted and moved to different locations to achieve more social distance, separation, crowd size or eventually move to a virtual platform.

“We are flexible enough to adjust to do what we need to do to keep people safe,” Najib said.

At West Virginia University, the Welcome Week program includes taking a photo of the classroom with a mask. The annual outdoor concert was cancelled. Due to the increase in infections and the imminent return of students, the university reopened its COVID incident command center last month.

West Virginia University student director Corey Faris said university officials hope the concert will be held. “But considering the Delta variant and the vaccination rate, we are just a little worried.”

today, WVU is restoring its mask requirements In the classrooms and laboratories of its three campuses, everyone can be vaccinated within the next 30 days, regardless of the vaccination status. The university said that the decision came from a variety of factors, including the possible need for enhanced injections, and the issue of faculty, staff and students not submitting vaccine verification or having a negative COVID test. The plan for the coming year can be adjusted based on the infection rate and hospitalization rate, as well as the opinions of health experts.

“People are very excited, as I said to my team, we need our students, and the students need us now,” Faris said. “Therefore, as the campus is restored to life, we will accompany each other in the next few days.”

Although most colleges and universities have resumed face-to-face welcome weeks, some institutions are still choosing virtual activities for students who do not like to participate in face-to-face activities.

Genevieve Bertone, director of student fairness and persistence at Santa Rosa Junior College in California, said it was an “easy” decision for her team to virtualize the college’s welcome week.

“In student life, we go to where the student is, and in COVID, it’s virtual,” Bertone said. “So, implementing virtualization through our Welcome Week event was an easy decision.”

The college will hold events on Zoom to let students get to know each other and find ways to participate in campus activities. However, there will be a face-to-face event to host a roadside food event for students.

“We know that making students feel welcome is the key first step to their success,” Bertone said. “Now more than ever, students need to connect. Connect with resources, connect with faculty and staff, connect with each other.”

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