It has been a long summer of planning for the safe return of students to campus. Today, as ready as we possibly can be, the students have returned. Introduction to Microbiology Laboratory students are taking seats in the LSE hallway, six feet apart, waiting for their lab classes to start.
Across campus students are crowding the sidewalks, all of them wearing masks. There are marshals to point Freshmen in the right direction, but instead of handing out food and drinks they are giving away digital thermometers. Several student groups are taking “first day of school” pictures. Chunk and I stopped to get our traditional photograph. The weather couldn’t be nicer for an August afternoon. It makes wearing masks a little more bearable.
While out for our walk, Chunk and I visited the Student Union Ballroom, where Dr. Mostafa Elshahed was just about to start teaching Advanced Microbiology. With 85 students enrolled, this was one of the few rooms on campus that can accommodate so many students and keep them a socially distant 6 feet apart. All of the planning over the summer is paying off. I’m proud to say that most Microbiology courses are being taught face-to-face. That includes all 24 laboratory sections and most of our lectures. Two sections of Introduction to Microbiology lecture are being taught on the basketball courts at the Colvin Center. Another large enrollment Microbiology course is being taught in the Seretean Center theatre.
Although this semester is anything but “business as usual”, we are making the best of it. Our priorities are to keep everyone safe and all students on-track for graduation. On behalf of the Microbiology faculty, staff and teaching assistants, I am grateful for the confidence of our students and their parents in our ability to keep everyone safe in our classrooms and teaching laboratories.
Please stay healthy and Go Pokes!
Tyrrell Conway, Regents Professor and Department Head