Returning to campus after Covid lockdown: what to expect?

Chances are if you are a second or third university student, you haven’t properly experienced university life. You probably started studying online in 2020/2021 and that’s all you’ve known. But now, things are kind of opening up, including universities. This means attending lectures in person, meeting classmates IRL and having to contend with being on campus. 

First things first, learn about the protocols…

All universities have different COVID-19 protocols. Some universities will require you to be vaccinated before entering the university campus. Others will need you to complete some form of screening before entering campus. The screening might be a daily thing, once-off or random so just be prepared. This means you shouldn’t wait to go to campus at the last minute. Rather ensure you factor these possible delays. You don’t want to miss out on lectures because you forgot to do your screening for the day. 

Another important thing is to find out if you should be going back to campus at all. While some students, especially those in the medical field have returned, this isn’t the case for all faculties. Keep up to date with your faculty administration as well as group chats so that you don’t miss out on any important information. 


The List: Opening dates for SA universities in 2022  

But also remember that you won’t be going back to 2019…

Even as classes move offline, there is just no way that university life will return to what it looked like in 2019. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many students and lecturers have been affected by the pandemic and a “return to normal” isn’t a good thing. This means that there is a hope that universities will retain some of the innovations that took place during the online learning period. This could mean developing new assessment methods and practices. It could also mean perhaps giving students a day or two to have online learning just so that no one including lecturers get overwhelmed. 

It’s fine to feel overwhelmed…

It’s all probably going to feel different and that’s completely fine. Each student attending university has their own experiences. However, the pandemic has definitely amplified these differences. There might be some students who are anxious about returning due to health concerns. Other students might have disabilities and don’t want to return. On the other hand, there are students who might be eager to return because they faced too many difficulties with online learning such as connectivity and data issues. There are other students who might be eager to return to campus away from toxic home environments. All of those experiences are valid. It’s important to understand what you are feeling while still being mindful of the people around you. 


Students Speak About Their Online Learning Experiences

Take time..

Give yourself a little time to process and deal with all your feelings around returning to campus and interacting with people. It is important to understand what you are feeling and deal with it. Remember going back to campus and university doesn’t only mean dealing with lectures and offline learning. It means interacting with other students and lecturers who might have very different ideas around the pandemic, mask-wearing and vaccinations. Avoiding conflict and putting your own mental and physical health first is important to ensure a smoother transition. 

Lastly, it’s important to raise any concerns with the university, administration and facilities. While there have several provisions made for students over the past two years or so in terms of being accommodating, this might change. Students should ensure that the good changes from the past few years remain in place. Universities should adapt to suit the changing needs of students and ensure their needs are put first. 

Featured image via Creative Commons