Olivia Pasquale/Villanovan Photography
On August 24, the Villanova community returned to campus. However, something felt
different this year. There was only a small number of masks, no social distancing and little to
no talk of COVID-19.
With the world appearing to be moving farther out of the pandemic each day, the fall
semester is looking much more normal than the past two years. Nova Nation appears truly back – arguably for the first time since 2019.
According to the University COVID-19 Campus Information page, the following policies
are in effect: all students, faculty and staff who will be on campus are required to be vaccinated
against COVID-19 (with the exception of approved accommodations). The COVID-19 booster is
strongly recommended. Masks are not required indoors or outdoors. Although masks are not
required indoors or outdoors, professors are able to decide whether or not they will require masks within their classrooms.
Any student who tests positive is expected to isolate for five days, per CDC guidance,
and notify the Student Health Center. While the University will continue to engage in contact tracing of student COVID-19 cases, it will maintain only a limited number of beds off-campus and in the Student Health Center for students who test positive or who are not up to date with their vaccines and require quarantine as a close contact. Unlike last year, masks are recommended, but not required for visitors to campus.
For a community and a student body largely impacted by the pandemic, this new normal
brings feelings of hope and excitement for the year ahead.
“I definitely feel more comfortable coming to campus this year versus last year,” sophomore Kai Da Luz said. “I have a much stronger appreciation for in-person classes after online and asynchronous learning.”
However, with hope also comes uncertainty. For many students, “back to normal” feels
unfamiliar and untrustworthy. The 2021 fall semester began mostly unmasked and in-person before both the Delta and Omicron variants widely impacted the remainder of the year.
“I’m definitely excited for everything to come this year,” Da Luz said. “I am a little worried about another surge of COVID, not necessarily because of COVID itself, but because I don’t think I could do online classes again.”
For the senior class, the pandemic has meant a social-distanced college experience. With only one year left, many feel as though they are returning to the Villanova they knew as freshmen.
“Orientation and Villanova have felt closer and closer to how I remember my pre-COVID
Orientation and first year experience,” said senior Hannah Murphy, who is the 2022 Student Chairperson for Villanova’s New Student Orientation program.
For Villanova’s oldest students, COVID and its aftermath has been a steadfast reminder
that it’s never too late for new beginnings or fresh starts.
“It’s been so refreshing to have an almost-normal semester back on campus so far,” senior Rachel Reardon said. “I still remember being sent home my first year at Villanova, and it’s been so awesome to see our community rally to be safe & stay on campus. Hopefully, senior year can be worry-free for my peers and me so we can enjoy a peaceful and celebratory last year at Nova.”
The University’s student body is not the only one hopeful for this new year. On August 24, University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D., sent his annual welcome back
message to the Villanova community. For the first time since 2020, COVID-19 was not
mentioned. Rather, he discussed what is “new” about Villanova: its people and its campus.
“The start of an academic year is always an exciting time as it brings new faces, new
stories and new experiences to Villanova,” Father Peter said in the email.
Father Peter welcomed the class of 2026, which joins us from 44 states and 31 countries. He announced campus transformations, including Mendel Hall to boast a Holy Grounds, West Campus residence hall renovations, CEER excavation work and more.
The start of Fall 2022 brings new beginnings and continuing traditions for the entire
Villanova community. After a successful first week of fully in-person and many unmasked
classes, Villanova remains hopeful for a happy and healthy remainder of the semester.