Some N.C. Central University students began their fall semester on campus this week in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Other students decided to move off campus or stay home this semester to complete classes and reduce their chance of catching COVID-19.
NCCU rolled out a plan to protect students, faculty, and staff on campus during the ongoing pandemic. The plan includes safety measures such as face masks worn in every building, moving some classes online, suspending residential visitation, and reducing class sizes to fight the spread of COVID-19.
Despite these measures put in place, some students were still hesitant about returning to campus.
“I have a lot of anxiety because our numbers are high and they keep going up,” said senior nursing student Tatyana Matos over the summer.
Matos’ concerns are shared by other students who have complained about the way the administration has handled the mass return to campus.
Some students were concerned for their own safety prior to moving back on campus because they would be sharing living spaces with people they have not been in contact with.
“I don’t know my suitemates, I don’t know who they come in contact with,” Matos added. “There’s a lot of common areas that we touch and I don’t know where they’ve been throughout the day.”
Students were aware of the new policies on campus from the numerous virtual town hall meetings that were held over the summer on the software, Cisco WebEx.
“They’ve done a good job getting out the information,” said sophomore elementary education student Armani Graves.
Despite fears, some students were excited to make their way back to campus and engage with their peers and the NCCU community.
“I enjoy being on campus and the campus resources,” said Graves.
The biggest threat to campus safety is students abiding by new rules put in place to ensure social distancing, such as suspending visitation. Many NCCU students are concerned the visitation rule will not be effective, and some have already planned to break the rule.
“No, I will not be social distancing,” said senior business student DeAjai Dawkins when asked whether he would abide by the visitation rule.
“I honestly feel like that’s not gonna work. There’s no way to control that,” said Matos about the suspension of visitation between on campus students.
Assistant Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Students Joy Hartfield sent an email to students before last week that if a student invites guests, hosts parties or kick-backs, it will result in “high-level sanctions that will include an immediate loss of housing.”
The no visitation policy puts a little added stress on resident assistants who are expected to be more strict with residents to make sure they are following the new guidelines. If they disobey this protocol, they will lose their job.
“I cannot service a resident if he or she does not have on a mask,” said Tierra Murrell, who is a desk assistant this year.
“I now have to regulate how many people get on both elevators, and we have to check student ID cards to make sure a person lives in my designated building because we have a no visitation policy.”
Ultimately, some students were more anxious than anything about returning back to NCCU this fall from across the state and even other states.
While the administration is confident about the new policies put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on NCCU’s campus, some students are preparing themselves for the worst.
Story by Jayla Gittens with contributions by Aaliyah Bowden and Tyshawn Cox.