COVID-19 safety protocols limit student social interaction while living in residence
The 2021-2022 academic school year is officially underway as students delve into their first couple of weeks of classes and adjust to a partially reopened campus.
Although this fall term is the closest to “normal” that we have experienced in the last year and a half, COVID-19 safety protocols remain in place. Naturally, this hinders social interaction between students.
Residence living is strict with COVID-19 safety protocols that keep students and staff safe but limit physical social interaction––something most first-year students crave.
Students living in residence have their own bedrooms and common areas such as lounges are closed until larger gatherings are permitted.
No guests are allowed in residence buildings at any time. These restrictions include parents and students from different rooms, floors, or other residences.
Students are also required to wear masks outside of their rooms and apartments.
Due to these restrictions, it can be challenging for students to navigate social life in residence. Having the opportunity to meet new people and develop life-long connections has been impacted.
“Although I don’t have any authority for the Laurier residence department, I feel that my job has been made a little tougher just because I have to be strict and make sure we comply with public health and safety,” a don of a Laurier residence said about the experience.
“I feel that being strict in these COVID-19 policies, like not having guests on the floors, is detrimental to student health and student engagement between the other floors and residences. We’re just honestly trying to do our best … safety is first, and we have to do our part,” they said regarding the restrictions and student socialization.
The residence dons have to be diligent when enforcing safety protocols, which has been challenging.
“I think that the mask mandate in residence is what students are having trouble with. Most people are now fully vaccinated, so some students feel that they will be fine as long as they’re in residence. Another one is guest policy. I understand that first-years want to have fun, but we do need to take contract tracing, and it makes it a lot harder when there are other people from other residences,” the don said.
Although safety protocols are important, some students feel as though the lack of physical socialization limits their first year university experience and takes away from the residence experience that they were looking forward to.
“I can empathize with students. I feel that if it was a regular first-year, I honestly think people would be better socialized. I feel like you guys would have a lot more fun and would find Laurier more welcoming in the city and community,” they said.
“First-year is one of the most life-changing years of your life, and COVID-19 hinders how students experience it. We’re just trying to do our best, and maybe eventually we can break down these restrictions, but we will see.”