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One year of COVID: Looking back on changes at Bucknell University

One year ago, Bucknell announced what seemed to be a drastic measure at that time, canceling in-person classes and transitioning to virtual learning.

UNION COUNTY, Pa. — Students are on campus at Bucknell University.

Classes are in-person, masks are mandated, and campus life has adjusted to a "new normal."

This time last year, things were much more uncertain.

The school just announced during spring break that students would be returning, but not for classes, instead to pack up their belongings and head home.

They were about to start what was then called "remote education mode," what we all know now as "virtual learning."

That was a moment for many that made the reality of the pandemic sink in.

"I really was excited to go back, but I think in a lot of ways it took the seriousness of the moment to heart," Junior Jacob Feuerstein said.

Senior Emma Arrighini started 2020 abroad in Rome.

By the end of February, she was sent home as coronavirus infections surged in Italy.

That reaction lagged here in the U.S.

"When I came back to the United States, classes were still happening here, things were normal, and it took about two to three weeks, I think, for it to set in in the United States that things were definitely going to be different," Arrighini said.

While the spring semester in 2020 was virtual after mid-March, by the fall, classes were back in-person.

Junior Molly O'Neil said it wasn't the same Bucknell she left in the spring, but she was happy to be back.

"It was definitely surreal to be back here, but the campus was definitely alive, and I had most of my classes in-person," O'Neil said.

Students hope next year brings more normalcy.

"I'm definitely hoping that everyone gets their vaccines so things will be a little more normal; maybe we won't have to wear masks, but who knows," O'Neil added.

While the university would like to have graduation in-person in a socially distanced way this year, a final decision on that has not yet been made.

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