SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Tuesday marked the first day of second semester at several colleges in western Mass., and for many public school students it was back to school in a hybrid learning model
For some, this was for the first time since going remote last spring.
Tuesday marked the first day of the spring semester for college students at American International College, Mount Holyoke College, and Bay Path University, where pandemic protocols remain in place.
Before AIC students can move on-campus, they have to come to campus, register for a COVID test and get tested for COVID-19 as a precaution.
“I think people know that in this time, it's inevitable that someone will likely show up positive at some point. So because of that, we planned accordingly, so we have a lot of guidelines in place. We have quarantine and isolation housing,” AIC Associate Dean of Students Alexander Cross said.
Cross spoke with Western Mass News about how they're keeping students safe on campus in the pandemic. Students will get tested weekly as a way to allow them to enjoy somewhat of a normal college experience.
“We realize that campus life is a really important aspect of the learning opportunity for students.,” Cross explained. “So there’s a lot of services that we offer on campus that are just great resources, whether that’s an academic resource center, health and counseling services.”
Zion Frazier, an AIC sophomore communications major, said the vibe of learning on campus motivates him more than sitting at home.
“It's not the same at home. At home, it's harder to get out of bed because bed is just better at home. You know mom is cooking right there. You have your cartoons, all that. At school, it's like alright, go to the dining hall; you got to go to the library,” Frazier said.
As for public school districts attempting to return to more of a normal, several of them phased into hybrid learning starting Tuesday, including Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Southwick-Tolland-Granville, and Westfield.
One East Longmeadow mother, Cindy Knowles, was happy her kids could socialize again. They've been remote learning since the pandemic first began last spring.
“I think we’ve all been very focused on our kids not catching COVID, but the reality is that the well-being of our kids is about their mental health and their ability to socialize and their ability to form those connections,” Knowles said.