BANGOR, Maine — For the first time in five months, students are taking on-campus classes at Husson University. Monday was the first day of the fall semester, one that looks much different than any other.
The university is offering online learning for students who wish to avoid campus, but Husson officials say 3,500 students will be taking classes in-person in Bangor.
Lexi Morrarty and Emilie Ireland are two freshmen at Husson. Both are Maine residents and live locally so they decided to commute to campus this semester while still getting as much of a college experience as possible.
“I’m the type of person that likes to learn in-person, face to face," Ireland said. "I was definitely excited to come to class rather than do everything online.”
Ireland is a nursing student and Morrary will be studying physical therapy and had her first class Monday morning.
“I was pretty nervous for it because I wasn’t sure where I was going yet," Morrarty added. “I wanted to meet new people, but it might be a little hard to do that this year, but I’m hoping to do that.”
The school, like many around the state and nation, will require masks to be worn by all who set foot on campus.
University President Bob Clark added 900 students will be tested once a week for COVID-19.
“This a surveillance testing that all of our students that are residential or taking on-campus classes will be going through," Clark said.
Clark added the school is working to create activities for students to have as much of a normal college experience as they can.
“Our gymnasiums will be open for recreation hours and outdoor activities as well, for intramurals and those kinds of on-campus, solely with our own students’ activities," he said.
Eric Gordon is the Executive Director of Communications at Husson University. He said the school is trying to keep students safe while getting the most out of their education as possible this year.
He added some non-academic buildings, like The Gracie Theater, will be used for classrooms.
“We have also turned (rooms in the buildings) into classrooms to ensure students have adequate spacing," Gordon said.
Clark mentioned there is no one thing that would force Husson to close down campus like it did in March. He did say the school will monitor events, the number of outbreaks, positive tests, and listen to state and federal guidelines to determine if the school has to switch to complete online learning.
Although it will look different, Monday was still the start of the semester and the first time students have had to wear a mask in class.