LUBBOCK, Texas — Normally move-in weekend at Texas Tech is jam-packed with celebrations and is three days long immediately before the start of school. However, due to COVID-19, this year they stretched moving over two weeks to allow for more social distancing.
Each student was asked to arrive during a designated time with face-coverings being mandated across campus.
“We have off-campus locations to meet the needs of students who might find themselves positive,” said Managing Director of University Housing Sean Duggan. “We would be quarantining students in their own room so that they can be more comfortable if they are waiting on a test or if they have been exposed.”
To ensure students understand the policy, TTU housing added an addendum to their housing contract. They explained to keep the campus clean and safe, students are expected to work with staff by wearing masks, social distancing and using the hand-sanitizing stations they’ve installed at different points in the dorms.
“We are doing our floor meetings via zoom, group chats and things like that, ” said Duggan. “Everything else will be small group focused. Staff will really be trying to do more one-on-one, more small group stuff like that as opposed to the big party programs we’re used to.”
For first-year students, adapting to the new, college environment amid a pandemic has been a challenge.
“It sucks, it ruins the whole college experience,” said first-year student Jasmine Cardona. “It feels like we didn’t even get to finish high school, and now college is starting, and it just is really frustrating…there’s still so much we don’t know that could happen.”
There has been a lot of uncertainty for students. Although many are trying to look on the bright side and meet people despite the challenges brought on by additional regulations, sometimes interacting with others can be a challenge.
“I’m definitely worried about being sent home early,” said first-year student Grace Capre.
A lot of shops and event centers are closed on campus as well. Students must wear masks, social distance and even order food through Grub Hub at dining halls with limited seating to avoid interactions.
“A lot of stuff is closed, there are a lot more rules, you can’t just walk around without a mask on, and it’s just taking away from the college experience, and it’s something we’re getting used to still,” said Christopher Barrera, another first-year student.
However, some students are concerned about how they will enforce all of these rules.
“There’s not enough enforcement, quite frankly,” said first-year Montana Montez. “You go to big gatherings, volleyball games, no one’s wearing their mask anyways. So regardless of what the rules are, no one is gonna listen.”
Other students expressed that having so many restrictions in the residence hall has made it hard to feel like home.
“That dorm is your home pretty much, it’s really weird having to put on a mask as soon as you leave and your home and put on a mask as you walk down the hallway,” said Capre.
Despite the lack of welcome events, Duggan explained they will still be going out of their way to engage with first-years.
“The whole university is very interested is definitely interested about serving these students,” he said. “Their senior year was not what they expected, college is not what they expected, so we’re just here to get them the best experience possible. We understand our spring semester was not what we expected either. So, we just want to give them a great Texas Tech experience.”
Overall, everyone shared the same major concern about the virus spreading.
“I’m a little concerned about the COVID situation, what if someone gets COVID? Are you both going home, how are your classes going to work?” said Barrera.
The university explained their protocol for if a student tests positive.
“The whole university is going to respond to help the student,” said Duggan. “We have off-campus locations to meet the needs of the students who might find themselves to be positive. We would be quarantining students in their own room so that they can be more comfortable if they are waiting on a test result or if they have been exposed.”