Well, it looks like we survived the first week back at school without having to reverse our plans.
And I think that’s all we can do, just focus on getting through one week at a time.
Besides a minor glitch right before school started, Villanova’s students seem to be following all the guidelines that have been asked of them – wearing masks and staying socially distant. I’ll admit that it is a bit odd teaching to a room full of students with masks on while wearing a mask myself, but after a while, you almost forget about the masks. And the smell of disinfectant is always in the air since the students clean their desks after each class with sanitizing wipes.
But those are fairly standard operating procedures during the pandemic.
There is one unique accommodation Villanova offered compared to other universities. and that is providing each student with a portable chair. Here was the one-sentence announcement, almost hidden in the multi-page back to campus plan that was released at the end of June:
“Each student will be provided with a portable chair to facilitate moving classes outside when feasible.“
The portable chair concept soon became something of a cultural phenomenon at the University and in just a few days it even had its own unofficial Instagram page – Portable Chairs of Villanova
And while at first it may have seemed a bit odd seeing all of the freshmen carrying their chairs around with them during orientation, now it seems like a stroke of genius.
When I drove past campus last night I noticed many students, not just freshmen, sitting outside by themselves or in groups, using their portable chair. The chairs make it easy for the students to socialize outside of their dorm rooms, and when finished they can return to the relative isolation of their dorm room. The fear was, and is, that dorm rooms would be a breeding ground for COVID-19. So the chairs provide a nice incentive to avoid being cooped up in such an environment all day long.
I don’t know if any teachers have tried to hold class outside using the chairs, but I am quite tempted to do so. It would be a great way to remember the semester, and I’m sure I can get a blog post out of it.
In the meantime, we anxiously await to see how we get through our first full weekend back. Our President could not have stated it any better what he expects from the students, in a video just released today:
Fingers crossed that I’ll be making a similar post next week. And if we are successful in making it to week 14, perhaps we will all point to the humble lawn chair as the best protection against COVID-19…
*image from Instagram