Operation Move In General Information: https://bit.ly/3sjnm62
Operation Move In Testing Information: https://bit.ly/2N4rB5r
John Pavelchik spent the holiday break pretty much doing nothing, so getting back to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was a relief.
“I was honestly itching to get back. I spent a lot of winter just sitting on my hands, so I was real excited to get back here,” he said as he loaded stuff from his car—including four 12-packs of Coca-Cola Cherry and a teddy bear from his girlfriend—onto a pushcart and rolled it into West Campus housing, where he lived in fall semester.
Having dealt with the precautions and pressures of COVID-19 during fall semester, any worries are lessened now, he said.
“I feel like everyone who’s moving in after last semester knows what to expect and there’s a lot less pressure,” said Pavelchik, a freshman from East Ridge.
That’s the feeling many students expressed as they toted their belongings into campus housing Thursday on Operation Move In. Wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands are now part of their daily routines, so adjusting to the new requirements is behind them. Now they’re looking forward to reuniting with friends and getting back to their studies.
Ethan Hoke, a freshman from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, said it feels good just to be back on campus.
“You’re going to miss home, but that’s only the first few weeks. You get used to it eventually,” Hoke said. “It’s going to be good to see a bunch of my friends again, all the people I’ve met, and just have these new classes start.”
Operation Move In on Thursday was far less hectic than in fall semester, although 194 more students now live in on-campus housing than in the fall, for a total of about 2,800. Move In officially runs from Jan. 13 through the start of classes on Jan. 19, with a few students here and there coming in until Jan. 30. Each housing unit had a set number of students moving in each day.
All students had to be tested the day they were scheduled to move into the housing units with results coming back in about 20 minutes. The set number of students allowed to move into each unit and the testing helped prevent traffic snarls caused by continuous streams of students.
“Our Residence Education team has built online appointments to help spread out our students during the move-in process as well as planning programs throughout the semester. University Health Services will be testing students prior to housing check-in to help minimize the spread,” said Carling Wilson, associate director of administrative services in the Department of Housing and Residence Life.
Worries about COVID-19 were lessened since extensive preparation by University health, housing and administrators prior to fall semester prevented the virus from becoming a major problem on campus.
“Housing and Residence Life along with University Health Services have been working together to ensure the safe return of our students,” Wilson said. “We are making the best of an odd situation, and we want to continue to provide an environment for students’ academic success,” she said.
Stephanie Carroll, mother of freshman Ashleigh, helped her daughter move back into Decosimo Apartments on Thursday. A computer monitor in her arms, Carroll said she was “impressed” with UTC officials’ efforts to manage COVID-19 in fall semester. She kept an eye on the numbers for on-campus infections and “they were low,” she said, so she had no worries about her daughter returning to campus with the pandemic still raging.
“The kids in the stories she told, everybody does their thing. They wear their masks; they don’t complain. You just follow the rules,” she said. “So, yeah, super happy.”
Yancy Freeman, vice chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, noted that living in campus housing can lead to better academic performance and success.
“Students who live on campus are more likely to have higher grades, return for future semester and graduate with a degree,” he said. “We are excited to welcome back our Resident Mocs. Spring 2021 is going to be an amazing semester because we have the best community of students living here.”
As a linebacker on the Mocs football team, sophomore Daniel Brent is tested regularly, so “I’m kind of used to it already.” Beyond that, though, the University’s COVID precautions and testing recommendations for everyone on campus make him feel safer.
“You’re more comfortable being around friends who are not on your team,” he explained.
Phoebe Babb, a freshman from Cookeville, Tennessee, said all her courses were online in fall semester, so she’ll be having her first face-to-face classes in about a year. She’s a bit nervous about everyone in the same classroom.
“But I’m excited about that, too, because it will be easier to learn.”
Eli Buchanan, a freshman from McMinnville, Tennessee, described it as “cool” to be back.
“UTC is a lot bigger than my hometown, and it’s just fun to see these people again.”