University Welcomes Back Students and Staff for Spring Semester


Courtesy of Villanovan Photography

Students return to campus for the new semester.

Sarah Wisniewski, Co-News Editor

Despite COVID variants and increasing cases threatening in-person instruction, the University welcomes back students, staff and faculty to campus for the beginning of another unusual semester. 

The University has taken a unique stance allowing back students and faculty, as hundreds of universities across the nation have opted to conduct classes online for the first weeks of the spring semester. 

Professors were provided the option of moving their classes online the Friday prior to the start of the semester. Many students have schedules with a mix of both in-person and online classes for the first two weeks of the semester. 

Ana Dumitrescu, a Biochemistry major in her last semester of undergrad, begins her final semester with mixed emotions. 

“I am happy to be back on campus, especially for my last semester at Villanova. However, I am aware of the threat of COVID and hope students can stay safe and follow the proper precautions,” Dumitrescu said. “I wish my time here was a little less weird to say the least, but I will make the most of my remaining time and be grateful for the memories I can still make despite this pandemic.”

The University has implemented various guidelines to ensure the safety of students, staff and faculty.

Prior to the return to campus, all eligible community members were informed via email from Kathleen Byrnes, Vice President for Student Life, that a COVID-19 booster shot would be required by Jan. 21, 2022. 

In addition to the new vaccine requirement, students will be tested in the beginning weeks of the semester. Surveillance testing will remain in place throughout the semester and unvaccinated students will be required to get tested twice a week

The mask mandate remains in place for all members, despite vaccination status. In the first week of the semester, some areas of campus have noticed students failing to adhere to the mandate.

Dean Joyce Russell, Ph.D. sent an email to all students at the Villanova School of Business emphasizing the importance of following the University’s mask mandate. 

“As leaders on campus, we want VSB to set a positive example for our community and I personally ask each of you to adhere to the following guidelines in Bartley Hall,” the email read. “We have extra masks for your use so there is no excuse for not having a mask on and wearing it correctly. You know how to do this.”

Dean Russell ended the email with a reminder that VSB students were selected with the belief each student would be an “outstanding leader.”

“Do the right thing and encourage each other,” the email continued. “It’s really not that complicated – wear your mask.”

University President Rev. Peter M. Donahue, OSA, Ph.D. also sent an email to all community members containing a video where he addressed the unusual start to the semester and emphasized the need to mask up indoors. 

“It hasn’t been the smoothest of starts but based on the counsel of our medical team, I am confident we will withstand this current wave and soon return to a more typical semester,” Father Donahue said in the video.  “That said, now, maybe more than ever, it’s critical to wear masks indoors. I am asking everyone to do their part and comply with this simple request.”

The COVID-19 Campus Dashboard has shown the impact of returning back to campus in-person and the impact of failing to follow guidelines. 

As of Tuesday, Jan. 18, there have been 704 cumulative cases with an estimated 208 active cases.

Residential students remain the highest majority of the positive tests while employees remain the lowest. 

A portion of these cases are from Panhellenic Recruitment, as all students participating were required to be tested upon arrival to campus. 

Daniella Carrion, a junior in Alpha Chi Omega, found out she was positive for COVID due to the test she took for recruitment. 

“I was definitely surprised to find out I had COVID since I had no symptoms, but that just shows why testing is so important,” Carrion said. “It was upsetting to have to move online for rush but I’m glad the University made recruitment as safe as possible for all the members of Panhel.”

Carrion was in quarantine for five days under the CDC’s new guidelines, which the University will follow throughout the semester.  Students in quarantine for only five days are required to wear a mask for five days following their release.

Students who test positive will continue to be quarantined, either at home or at a location provided by the University. 

The University will continue to monitor the situation on campus and act accordingly. Students who are unsure of what to do in any situation involving COVID should contact the University’s Health Center.