Local college students head back to campus with hopes of some normalcy

SOUTHINGTON — In 2020, Cassandra Dubitsky graduated in a parking lot ceremony from St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol, far different from the pomp and circumstance she had been working toward. In the fall, she headed to Bentley University in Massachusetts, prepared to follow a series of intense guidelines.

Dubitsky of Southington and other Bentley students were to adhere to a 10 p.m. curfew, wear wristbands when entering buildings to show they did not have COVID-19, and essentially keep to their rooms, with all gyms and common areas remaining mainly closed.

For the second semester, Dubitsky elected to stay home, attending her classes remotely.

“COVID was getting worse, restrictions on campus tightened,” she said.

She was confined to her room all day, leaving only occasionally. Regular COVID testing ironically became a highlight, as it was an opportunity to see others. 

“A lot of times during the fall semester, it felt like a sci-fi movie,” she explained, describing her experience seeing students being taken into quarantine and a mostly empty campus.

Now, with virus restrictions changing once again, Dubitsky will return to campus full time for her sophomore year. 

“I know what to expect — ‘normal’ no masks, in-person classes, less testing…” Dubitsky said, “I think classes will be harder.”

Recent Southington High School graduate Olivia Blumetti will also be packing her bags and heading to school soon. Blumetti will begin her first year of college at Penn State, though she feels more uncertainty than Dubitsky. 

“As of now, many things are opening at my school — such as sporting events, clubs…” Blumetti said.

Some activities still require a vaccination, which students had the opportunity to send proof of last month.

Penn State’s website for COVID updates, which follows CDC guidelines, states, “Fully vaccinated individuals are not required to wear face masks indoors, however, individuals who are not fully vaccinated are expected to wear face masks inside University buildings,” as of June 28th.

 As for Connecticut’s public universities, the CSU website shared updated COVID plans for each school. The site shared that vaccines would be required for all in-person learners, but with no official decision on the wearing of masks. 

Blumetti said that she is excited to go to school, but nervous about being out of state.

“I am a little nervous going out of state for the sole reason that if there is an outbreak, I am not near home,” she said. 

She also shared that she didn’t know what to expect academically, after being out of the regular school schedule for so long.

“I just don’t really remember what a normal class is like, without some students online and everything,” she said. “Now, going into college where I have zero clue what a class is like, I don’t know what to expect.”



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