Returning to campus for Spring 2021 raises excitement and worry

By: Dalet Valles

Students have been wondering when Biola would open its doors again. Many activities have been canceled, and fall 2020 was not what many expected. President Barry Corey sent out an email last week stating that Biola is making plans to welcome students back on campus, though it is not entirely confirmed. Many students were excited, but a handful also began to worry about how this would affect certain parts of their lives. 

Biola University has gone to great lengths to properly plan the return of students on campus. In the email sent out on Oct. 29, President Corey listed the changes that students should expect if the campus were to reopen. A large portion of the new changes correlates with the county’s guidelines for social distancing and some that coordinate with helping ease any stress students may be experiencing.

With the threat of COVID-19 invading a lot of aspects of students’ lives, there are a lot of factors to consider before returning back to campus. Some students have even said that returning to school is not their top priority during this time. They’ve also said that they’d have many things to take into consideration in order to prepare for the return. 

“That [returning on campus] would increase my stress and risk because my parents are vulnerable towards the virus,” says Darius Smith, a cinema media arts major. “It would be nice but it would be really difficult. I feel like being online is safer even if it’s more difficult. Plus, I’m learning to adapt to being online so might as well continue the same strategy next semester.” 

Smith worries that returning on-campus might increase the spread of COVID-19 both in the students and people they come into contact with. In his statement, President Corey assured, “We care about the health, safety, and well-being of our community, putting the health of others first by wearing face coverings and physically distancing.” Yet, many students worry about how effective that may be. 

Other students say that they’d jump at the chance to return to school. A handful of out-of-state and international students have expressed that this opportunity will solve a lot of stress that was raised when the school closed for the fall. 

“I am not in the same time zone as the U.S. The time difference has been hard,” says Kenta Dedachi, a junior commercial music major who is staying in Japan during the pandemic. My situation is not ideal for taking higher education because I need to actually be in class to practice. If the campus opens, I am thinking about coming back.” 

Dedachi, along with many other students at Biola, will have an easier experience if the campus were to reopen. Issues like time zones and hands-on classes have made it difficult for students, but the possibility of returning relieves them from some of the stress caused by the pandemic. Going to class will be made much simpler than how international students experience it now. 

Returning on campus has not yet been confirmed or denied. Students are awaiting another announcement so that they can properly plan for the return to campus or to stay remotely online. A large part of the decision sits on the approval of the county, which is why President Corey has not yet fully put the plan in motion. Biola has expressed that they are eager to welcome students back on campus, and students are hoping to receive an email from the school soon.