SCRANTON, Pa. — Brendon Acara admits he was a bit nervous to step foot on campus for new student orientation at the University of Scranton, and not just because of the expected jitters. The virus added some concern.
"I was kind of up in the air, but honestly, I'm glad I'm here because it's a touch of normalcy," said Acara.
The university is hosting in-person orientation for freshmen over the course of the next several days. Events are spread out in order to keep groups small.
University of Scranton President Fr. Joseph Marina S.J. is in the same boat as the students; he started his tenure just last week.
"To have everyone back, to know that the vast majority of folks are vaccinated, is really helping to bring the campus back to life. Now that said, of course, we do have to be careful and maintain the same kinds of protocols that have been keeping us safe for some time," Fr. Marina said.
Students are required to wear masks indoors, whether or not they are vaccinated, and unvaccinated students are asked to mask outdoors, too.
Last year, orientation events were held virtually. Student leaders say there's no comparison.
"A lot of it is piecing it together through your imagination, so just being in person and being able to actually physically step on the ground, it's a whole different vibe," said junior Erika Aguilar.
After campus tours, students meet in small groups without their parents, a chance to get to know each other face to face.
"Once we get them alone with just other students around them, they start really connecting," Aguilar said.
Gearing up to connect in person instead of virtually for the upcoming semester.
"We're all in this together, and the six feet between us, we may not let us separate us because no matter how far apart we are, we're all students here," Acara added. "We're all here to learn, and we're all excited to get on with our lives."