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What will Juniata be like in the fall?

Madison Wrightstone
Madison Wrightstone ’23
“Knowing that we will be back on campus in the fall with in-person classes because of our success this past year is exciting, and I am hopeful that our new normal will continue to evolve and include some of our old normal as well.”

There really are no words to describe the climate of the past year and a half. We can try and search for words to succinctly describe the chaos of our lives, but no words seem to really summarize the world changing under us overnight. We can try “life-changing,” but that seems too generic. We can try “confusing,” but that seems like too-simple of a word to describe all the ways that the world has shifted and will continue to shift. We can try “heartbreaking,” but this word never fully encapsulates the feeling of what it means to lose someone. In so many ways, the past year and change has been a whirlwind whipping past us while in others, it feels like time is minute grains of sand slowly slipping through an hourglass.

In some ways, I forget that the pandemic still exists. Our little bubble at Juniata is one that has been able to stay on campus the entire year and maintain in-person classes. Yes, we have to wear masks, and yes, social distancing is a thing, but they have become such a part of the new normal in all of our lives that at some points, it’s easy to forget that this is not the way it has always been. Knowing that we will be back on campus in the fall with in-person classes because of our success this past year is exciting, and I am hopeful that our new normal will continue to evolve and include some of our old normal as well – especially because I miss the old normal.

Everything surrounding the fall semester is still a bit unknown, but this is consistent across the country as vaccine distributions are finally available nationwide to all adults. Very few schools have made announcements on vaccine expectations or what the fall will look like, but if there is one thing I know, it is that Juniata will continue to adapt. This summer, I will be working as a New Student Transitions Intern (so I basically help plan and execute all things freshman onboarding), and we are hoping that Inbound will be able to have more of its pre-pandemic characteristics depending on the climate surrounding COVID towards the end of summer. In terms of classes, I am incredibly hopeful that Zoom University will be a distant, universally hated memory. As more and more of our campus community continues to be vaccinated, the more likely it feels that we might be able to see each other’s full faces once again. Even full sport seasons feel like they can happen after how well things have gone this spring. After so many days where it felt like we would never make it out of the tunnel, we can suddenly see the light, filling us all with a renewed energy and hope for a change.

Earlier in this blog post, I went on and on about the lack of adequate words to describe our lives, but the word so many of us have been searching so long for is hope. Sometimes it all just feels like a bad dream, and on the very worst days, that dream feels inescapably suffocating. But here we are, having made it through the very worst days as we round the corner towards the very best days ahead. As we get farther and farther away from where we were, it is all the easier to look ahead to where we are going this fall and beyond.