HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — Spring semester classes started for Northern Kentucky University students Tuesday, a week later than the original start date. That change was made to accommodate for the progression of the omicron variant of COVID-19.
Senior year of high school into the first few years of college is supposed to be a magical time in the lives of young people. For NKU sophomore Ja’Von Colbert, it’s been nothing but starts, stops and general uncertainty due to the virus.
While Colbert has tried to make the most of these years, he said he can’t help but think about what he’s missed out on.
“All the time. I mean, sometimes my friends and I reminisce on those times, and what we would’ve done, and how we would’ve done it, and stuff like that. It’s a fun game of what if. But in reality, it didn’t happen. It’s a harsh reality,” he said. “But there’s a silver lining of we’re different. We are a part of history.”
Colbert is part of what’s becoming a generation of students who don’t know school life outside of a pandemic. He said the first day back on campus was a breath of fresh air.
“Pretty much, today’s been pretty cool from what I’ve seen,” Colbert said. “In my opinion, it’s still such a shock factor that it’s still all happening. But it’s a mix of adaptability where it’s like, yeah it’s happening, but it’s the same routine at this point.”
NKU is starting this semester with a hybrid model of online and in person classes. That will continue until COVID numbers are closer to what the university saw in the fall, said NKU Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Matt Cecil.
“We didn’t want to just go online. That messes up a lot of different kinds of classes,” he said.
Cecil talked about trying to adapt to the ever changing challenges of the pandemic from the administrative perspective.
“We’re making sort of, kind of, discreet mitigations that we have to do to make sure we get past this wave, and sort of maintain things as we go,” Cecil said.
Those mitigations include things like grab-and-go dining, more mask enforcement in the recreation center and limited seating in the student union.
But no vaccine mandate, and Cecil said he doesn’t see that changing. He said, according to the latest data available to NKU, 75% of people 18 and older in the counties the university serves are vaccinated for the virus.
NKU juniors Mike Wilson and Cedric Evans only got to experience one semester of normalcy before COVID-19. While it’s been far from ideal, they reflected on positive take-aways.
“COVID did affect me, but I think COVID has benefited me as well, by showing me that I can be adaptable and be versatile,” Evans said
Wilson said he was happy to be back on campus.
“I became more appreciative of what we had,” he said. “You know, just being able to be around other people, and communicate, you know that’s a motivator right now.”
Both said they’re hoping that, just maybe, things can be back to normal for their senior year, or as normal as possible.