McDaniel’s continued handling of the COVID-19 pandemic

Masks are still required indoors on campus (Nikhil Niyogi / McDaniel Free Press)

At McDaniel College so far this semester, students have had a good experience being back on campus despite the ongoing pandemic. A lot of first year students feel like it is a big transition coming from hybrid or completely virtual high school to completely in-person college.

         “I really enjoy being back on campus so far. It was definitely a big change coming from high school and being all virtual, but I love being around people and being able to attend in person classes,” said first year student Ainsley Erdner.

         “Well, although we did a hybrid in 2020 and 2021 for my senior year of high school, I will admit it’s great to finally be back in full first in person experience back on campus. I was a little worried before going off to college for the first time because I was worried that we’d be facing online classes for the first year of college. It would not have been a great first year experience on campus,” said freshman Carl Bentzel.

         First year students feel like since they came to campus, they have started building a community by getting to know other students.

         “I love it on campus. I love that everyone is like a big family, and all helps each other,” said first year student  Lexie Pruett. 

         Many of our students here at McDaniel have enjoyed being able to get more involved on campus again, having classes again in person, meeting friends again, and not feeling isolated or separated anymore.

         “I’ve enjoyed, you know, interacting with my friends, having them in my room again. Just enjoying the social life of being on campus,” said sophomore Olivia Sunde.

         Another sophomore student feels similarly. 

         “You know, it’s pretty cool! I get to see a lot of my friends again; you know it’s awesome. Going to classes in person which makes it a lot easier than online. It’s great!” said sophomore Thomas Chenoweth.

         One first-year feels that we no longer have to be separated or isolated from other students, and that the mask mandate makes it safe to have some amount of normalcy.

         “I’m glad we do not have these giant plastic walls separating us anymore much like how we did in high school where the walls were divided by a plastic sheet. Teachers have basically had yellow duct tape around their entire desk, and they prevent students from going closer. If I remember correctly, some teachers would sometimes even try to push students back carefully to avoid like catching germs, so I’m glad even though we still have to wear masks indoors, it doesn’t seem to bother me too much and I’m just glad that we can  just stay close to students and everything is slowly backing off,” said Bentzel.  

         Most students feel that McDaniel College has responded well to the pandemic and put in some restrictions to keep other people safe and there have hardly been any cases like some other colleges.

         “I think they’ve done very well; you know since we have had minimal cases here and there versus some other colleges such as Towson and all this. The mask mandate is still a little bit annoying, but you know, they are just taking extra precautions. I can’t be mad about that,” said Chenoweth. 

         There are very few students who feel that the college has a fair job with handling the pandemic and arrangements for people who have COVID-19 or some other disease.

         “I think they’ve done a pretty fair job, I’d say. A fair to good if I want to give it like a scale. So, I do think, you know, whenever there’s an actual case of COVID-19 or anything that a student comes down with a sickness. They have shuttles to take you, you know any hospital or E.R. and have precautions in place. The rules are a little funny to me like how you know, don’t have to wear mask inside of the residence halls, but you do in the student center and the classrooms, but I do think they are following the guidelines that they do put in place, so again, I like they are doing like a fair to good job of handling the pandemic,” said freshman Djeff Ikambana. 

         There is one student who feels that McDaniel does not need to do anything other than what they are currently doing to handle this pandemic.

         “I feel like McDaniel is doing well with the pandemic and could not get any better,” said first year  Michael Girton.

         Students on campus seem to feel safe attending classes in person again and participating in events on campus with the mask mandate and the restrictions put in place to ensure it all being safe given that everyone is vaccinated.

         “I do feel safe attending classes and events. Most people here are vaccinated because you are going to have to be vaccinated to be in the school, but I do know, not everyone is, based on your religion or whatever they feel, so that is just their choice, but I do feel relatively comfortable. If I do come down with a case, they do give us reports as well when the county is having an up taking of cases, so I do feel comfortable and safe being at events and in classes,” said Ikambana.

         A few students, especially first year students, have found professors to be very understanding and reassuring of students who had to miss class for not feeling well.

         “I do feel safe. I feel like protocols are followed fairly well and anytime that there have been cases of illness or things like that, all my professors have been understanding if I don’t feel good or stuff like that and they’ve been pretty flexible considering the issues we have had,” said Erdner.

         In academic life, the deans have continued to strive to monitor  COVID-19 cases in the area, and most of them feel like the mask mandate has helped to prevent cases from spreading. 

         “So far I think this semester has been going extremely well. Positive COVID case numbers are low, and the campus is feeling the most normal it has since spring 2019. I’m also looking forward to us being able to make mask wearing optional,” said Liz Towle, dean of students

         Currently, academic life has noticed what the transmission levels are, and they feel that the college needs to plan ahead to achieve lower transmission levels.  

 “Unfortunately, our county transmission rate is still at high transmission, so we need to continue being attentive to the strategies in place that are minimizing the spread of COVID,” said Dean Towle.

         “The next steps will hopefully involve re-evaluating mandatory mask wearing inside campus buildings and allowing for larger groups to gather and enjoy a dinner, like we have done in the past at student-planned cultural dinners. There are also some student activities that I hope OSE can plan for the spring semester, like dance parties,” she continued. 

  Many students on campus are excited to be back in person at full capacity instead of half capacity, and it is especially nice for first year students to have an experience on campus and in person. The rules have been effective overall and transmission levels have been monitored on a regular basis.