COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - To avoid the long lines and crowded lobbies that have become a staple of the University of South Carolina’s new student move-in process, the housing office extended the process to six days rather than the usual two to three to keep people safe from COVID-19.
University staff, parents, and students all said it's been a smooth process.
"There's been enough parking, families have been able to get right in...there aren't lines. Some of the hurdles we've had is we haven't been able to have volunteers help move in this year, so families have had to move in their belongings themselves," said executive director of University Housing April Barnes.
But while the streets of downtown Columbia looked different from previous years, parents and students had the same emotions they always have, Barnes said.
Incoming freshman Connor Beaule drove down from Greenville Sunday morning with his Dad and said the process was easier at UofSC than it was for some of their friends at other schools. The lack of stress around getting settled allowed Beaule to take time to celebrate arriving to campus after a long summer.
“I’ve been waiting for this day for all my life honestly since I was five-years-old I was a fan of South Carolina, so I’m just so happy to be here honestly,” Beaule said before heading out to help his new roommate get settled.
The UofSC incoming freshman class feel like they’ve had multiple milestone moments taken away from them in recent months. From senior proms to graduation, to camps, many of them were eagerly waiting to have one landmark moment during this pandemic, according to a dozen interviews with new students.
"I'm just trying to go in with the best attitude and make it what I can...everything is difficult so you just have to make it fun," incoming freshman Brianna Loewke said.
Tyler Ward agrees with his classmate about the importance of a good attitude.
Since March, Ward and his father have been spending a lot of time together, the two said. But now Tyler's Father sees moving his son in as a moment for him to find his son Tyler to grow.
"It's a chance for him to be independent and have his own life now," Tyler's father Stan Ward said. Tyler said he was also excited to get out of his house.
"Just the realization of saying 'yes' I can finally something or 'yes' I can finally go somewhere. Even If all the camps I was trying to go to I wasn't able to do or all the friends I wasn't able to see... just to be able to move and say 'yes I am finally able to get my life together,'" Tyler Ward said.
For other parents, COVID has become the norm. They’ve discussed safety and best practices with their kids over the summer, but they weren’t ready for how hard it would be to wave them goodbye.
"I'm not worried about the health aspects of it, I'm just worried about her being far from home," said one parent.
Barnes said the question the housing office has gotten most frequently is what will happen if a student in university housing gets sick with COVID-like symptoms or tests positive for the virus. She said they have rooms set aside for students who need to stay on campus. Barnes explained they will be given everything they need to make their time in quarantine as comfortable as possible including regular meals being delivered and virtual check-ins from advisers.
The other question she gets is the best tips for anyone moving in their child during this time. She said she’s recommending every parent bring a cart or a wagon to transport their bags from their car easily because UofSC is not allowing student volunteers to help move new students into their rooms.