Returning to Campus for the Spring Semester

Students encouraged each other to follow the Caritas Commitment on campus, but there has often been no accountability off campus leading up to our return.

After making it through a relatively successful fall semester, everyone’s mind started to shift to winter break, but many people also started to wonder what the spring semester would look like. Being a little more than a week away from the start of classes for the spring semester and the faculty already back to work, it seems like very few people have questioned how this is going to work.

Personally, I tried to follow all of the rules in the fall semester not because I fear getting the coronavirus, but because I want to keep everyone I choose to be around safe. I followed every aspect of the Caritas Commitment that I was aware of, and I even made sure that I brought an extra mask with me everywhere I traveled just in case something would happen to my first one. I took these same concepts home with me for our two-month winter break, but did everyone? Even just in our short 14 weeks on campus in the fall, we all saw at least one person who didn’t want to follow the rules, but while we were home, it seemed as though the rules just didn’t quite exist. Through social media, I discovered it was very clear to see that not everyone was as committed to coming back to campus and keeping everyone safe as I was.

There is a very large factor rooted in the fact that we are seeing some of the worst numbers of cases in the past ten months that this pandemic has been going on for. There is also a new strand of the virus that is much more communicable and poses a greater threat. We just don’t know who might have the virus, but we didn’t know in August either. Villanova’s plan to test us all before we return to campus is a great effort, but I took my test a few days ago already and I won’t be moving in for over a week still. So again, who really knows.

To be completely clear, I am not saying that Villanova’s plan won’t keep us safe or that I am better than everyone because I tried to follow the rules; I am saying the world isn’t safe right now. While we were all at home for these last two months, campus was still active with dedicated staff, students, administrators, and most notably, the basketball teams. Even with this small number of people coming in contact with each other on campus, the men's basketball program was still shut down multiple times due to positive cases of both players and staff. The bubble that the athletic department had formed for the program was somehow breached, yet Villanova thinks adding thousands of other students to the equation is somehow going to be safe.

We made it through the fall, and that was a miracle, but I am just not sure that another miracle will happen. I certainly hope and pray that the seniors will get to have an in-person graduation, that we will be able to sit in a classroom on the 4th floor of Tolentine, that we can get flatbreads, burrito bowls, chicken parm sandwiches, and more from Cova, but I just don’t think we can do that safely. In the spring of 2020, I was a high school senior looking forward to graduating and moving on to college. After Pennsylvania was faced with its initial two week shutdown of schools, I got an email from Villanova letting me know that I was accepted, but then the time for my graduation came and went. All I had was a half hour long video that I could have thrown together myself on iMovie to show for my 13 years of hard work. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone else, but I don’t know how being on campus for classes this spring increases the chances of an in-person graduation at all.