It’s a new semester, and in many ways, it feels like a return to the old semesters. Last year at this time, the library was open for keycard access only. The building was, by and large, a ghost town most times of the day. The coffee bar (one of the biggest draws of the library) was open, but with limited options. There were no places to sit in there, and most of the comfortable furniture in the library was removed. Even for the furniture that was left, it was all placed very far apart. Libraries typically try to be places where people can go and spend a long time and be comfortable. Since the pandemic began, we really haven’t been that.
But now the students are back, and the social distancing measures are gone. You would think that 6 feet of distance wouldn’t make that much of a difference, but you’d be wrong. Having the furniture back, having the coffee bar back in full swing, doing away with all of the rules and regulations (up-only staircases, down-only staircases, constant reminders to not eat or drink in the library), it sort of feels like when Dolores Umbridge was taken down as the Headmistress of Hogwarts. (Well, maybe not that bad, but you get the picture.)
How safe does it feel on campus? Well, masks are required everywhere indoors (unless you’re eating or drinking), vaccinations are mandatory for all students, and widely done for most faculty and staff, and the ventilation in our buildings is pretty darn good, so it feels quite safe. Plus, Maine continues to have one of the lowest case rates in the nation. I’m hopeful the safety measures that are being taken will allow us to continue to be as open as we are.
In a small town like this, having an influx of students coming back to classes and the area really feels like a revitalization, and it’s great to have them all back.
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