Welcome back to another semester and, for many, welcome to Homewood. Though a hybrid semester isn’t the experience we would normally hope for, we are cautiously optimistic to be on campus for the first time since March.
To the Class of 2024: we’re glad many of you are getting your first taste of Baltimore and Charles Village. Check out our fall orientation magazine from this year for advice and useful information about Hopkins amid the COVID-19 era. Peruse our old editions to learn more about life on-campus and in Baltimore.
As another unconventional semester begins, many of us will still be learning exclusively from our laptops. However, some progress has been made regarding both the current semester and ones to come.
Updates to orientation programming for incoming students include year-long support from First-Year Mentors and a mandatory crash course on the University’s historic role in perpetuating racism in Baltimore. We’re confident that equipping new students with these resources are much-needed improvements to the Hopkins experience.
The University’s new asymptomatic COVID-19 testing program is another prominent change we appreciate. Getting tested is convenient, with digital scheduling and a quick saliva collection process. Though we wish students had access to testing last fall, we applaud the University for making it available now. Of course, these are just tools to help keep us healthy — we cannot let a negative test transform into a false sense of security. According to the Hopkins community dashboard, 21 students have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week. Cases are currently low but could quickly climb if we violate guidelines.
With so many of us back on campus, we must recommit to keeping each other safe. Gathering in large groups, even while masked, is both dangerous and against University policy. As of Tuesday, 11 students living in University housing have already been sent home for violating safety policies. If we want to have the opportunity to fully be back on campus, we have to take University and government guidelines seriously. Social distancing is as important now as it was in March.
Like social distancing, some major issues have carried over into 2021. Though the University has made progress in terms of returning students’ items that were packed and stored this summer, many still haven’t received their possessions. Additionally, living in relative isolation is difficult during these stressful times. You may encounter new feelings of stress or loneliness, and that’s okay. If you’re struggling, please reach out. There are people at Hopkins who want to help and resources available, such as the Counseling Center and A Place To Talk.
While we can just see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s still a ways off. The nationwide rollout of COVID-19 vaccines has been slow. As a relatively low risk group, the student body at large will not be the first priority. However, some students have been able to receive the vaccine because of their work at the Hospital, and we’re proud of — and grateful for — our peers fighting the pandemic.
We need to show up for each other by wearing masks, staying six feet apart and avoiding large gatherings. Until we can be fully reunited, we look forward to seeing your (masked) faces around campus.