After many months of anticipation and remote learning, on Feb. 25, Hampton University announced that they will offer in-person instruction and housing for the 2021 Summer and Fall semesters, but with a few conditions.
Dr. Barbara Inman, Vice President of Administrative Services and Infectious Disease and Prevention Working group chair, sent out an email to the entire Hampton student body on March 8 with the news. In the letter, she stated that in accordance with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and the Virginia Department of Health, students will be able to return to campus in the Summer and Fall, showing valid proof and documentation of their vaccinations.
“Students will be required to be fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine prior to returning to campus unless medically contraindicated or there is a religious exemption,” the email read.
The Summer semester will also include Hampton’s Pre-College Program for the incoming freshman class.
This announcement came a couple of weeks after a previous email requesting an advance tuition payment for the 2021-2022 academic school year was sent out, which had many students questioning if Hampton’s administration was planning for students to return in the fall.
To gain further information regarding this announcement, I sat down with Dr. Inman to discuss the questions and concerns many students had after digesting the email.
Regarding Hampton’s rather early decision to return, Dr. Inman explained that the availability of the vaccine played a major role in the administration’s decision, as well as the readiness for the university and students to get back to campus.
News of the university’s plans was met with a lot of feedback and responses from current students and the Hampton community.
For current freshmen who spent what was supposed to be their first and best year in college at home, many felt solace towards the news. Felipe Gonzalez, a Music Education and Voice major from Long Island, New York, was one of them.
“Being Mister Freshman, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with a lot of my class, and we all have already missed out on so many milestones such as; high school graduation, prom, and freshman year,” he shared. “I can say for most of us that transitioning back to campus is something we all need right now.”
Gonzalez and his friends, like other freshmen in the class of 2024, have been creating and maintaining their friendships solely online for a year and are excited to create experiences together in-person during the fall.
Current juniors who will be returning next fall as the senior class are rather grateful to be able to finish their final year at Hampton back on campus.
“Honestly, it’s a blessing to be able to have a senior year. I know we’ve all dealt with a lot in the past year, so I think going back and being able to get back to ‘normal’ will be a good thing for us,” Kayla Jenkins, a Junior Psychology Pre-Med major, Spanish minor from Atlanta, Georgia shared.
“All of our programming and decisions are going to be guided by the CDC, the Virginia Department of Health as well as executive orders issued from the governor,” Inman said. “There will be some limitations on the number of people who will be able to congregate at social activities, but we are going to do our best to provide students with a quality, in-person experience.”
As the administration works on rolling out more details, one thing they are aware of is that for the graduating class of 2021, graduation will be held.
In fact, they will be hosting graduation for the 2021 class as well as 2020 graduates who, unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, did not get to have one. However, with the news of the return for the rest of the student body, some graduating seniors were upset their graduation will still be held virtually.
“Of course, the news was a bit disheartening. I would love to interact with my classmates one more time, but I’ve chosen to accept it and move past it. I just hope that the virtual graduation will still be of quality,” said Eva Davis, a graduating senior Cellular and Molecular Biology major from Fayetteville, North Carolina.
As students await more information regarding their return, the Hampton Administration says students can expect more detailed information and specifics rolled out well before the 2021-2022 Fall semester begins.
“We believe we have a reopening plan that we allow safe and responsible in-person instruction and housing for our students,” Inman shared.