For half of Wellesley students, the first two weeks of February were packed with on-campus students moving back into campus for the spring semester. For many Wellesley juniors and seniors, spring marks their first time on campus since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In contrast to previous years as well as this fall, the process was far more drawn-out — the College has taken precautions by quarantining all students until they received two negative coronavirus tests, in addition to a negative test before they traveled to Wellesley. Communication to students from the College about procedures, however, has invoked mixed feelings for many involved.
The first message from the College was sent out in late December with information about testing, quarantining, move-in protocols and residential life for the upcoming semester. However, communication was limited to a series of emails, many of which weren’t sent until much closer to the first move-in date. Originally, a webinar was planned for January where students and family could answer impending questions, but the webinar never ended up happening.
“Even the night before we moved into the hotel, we actually hadn’t received a memo telling us what the procedure would be like to check in and get our tests and everything,” Katie Christoph ‘21 said.
As a result, many students faced confusion in the few days before move-in and flooded class Facebook groups with anxious posts. For one, a snowstorm in early February caused some students’ flights to be delayed or rescheduled, including Qihan Deng ’21. While Deng did not know at first who to contact, she was eventually able to talk to the Office of Residential Life.
“Res Life got back to me really quickly, within 20 minutes,” Deng said. “They were really on top of this.”
Even after Deng’s flight was delayed another hour, she was still able to check into the Verve Hotel.
However, other issues arose during quarantine, including a mix-up of quarantine meals. According to some students who stayed at the hotel or quarantined in dorms, there were multiple days where meals delivered to students were orders from the wrong day or from the wrong person. While a mild inconvenience for some, for students with dietary restraints, these mix-ups meant some of their meals were inedible.
“I [ordered] the chickpea stew, and I opened it, and it was pasta with broccoli, and the pasta had cheese in it,” Liz Borecki ’21 said. “All things I cannot eat.”
Borecki was able to get dinner after talking to the residential assistant and the house president of Bates Hall. Director of Residential Life Helen Wang also delivered plain white rice to Borecki. However, many of Borecki’s other quarantine meals also contained foods Borecki could not eat.
In some cases, students have had to change their spring semester plans entirely. After contracting COVID-19 and subsequently needing to delay her arrival to Boston, Mehreen Jatoi ’22 wasn’t able to return to campus as originally planned for spring semester.
“I emailed Dean Cohen first because I didn’t know what to do and was a bit confused, and she was really helpful,” Jatoi said. “There was a form I had to fill out, the Spring Intent Change Form, which she linked, and I just basically told them, this is my situation, I don’t want to come back to campus, and I think it’s best if I just come to Boston later, on my own time.”
Jatoi’s room and board were credited back to her Workday account, but as of Feb. 16, Student Financial Services has yet to refund that money to her bank account.
Overall, students praised the Office of Residential Life for their quick response to questions and concerns. While move-in and quarantine may not have been ideal for some students, overall, spring semester was able to begin without too many major issues.
“Wellesley sort of rallied for me in that moment,” Borecki said.