Ohio Northern University is located in Ada, OH. For those who don’t know Ada is a very small town. There are no attractions, only homes, a strip of family owned restaurants, some fast food restaurants and a few little stores. If students wanted to go out or party, they would go to Bowling Green or Columbus. If students wanted more food options they would have to go as far as 20 minutes out. Considering that we are now dealing with COVID, it’s really hard to find things to do.
COVID has changed a lot of things for everyone. Most of the restaurants in the town are only take out and delivery instead of dine-in. Wow is also take out only; However the dining hall will let you dine in or take out, as long as you follow social distancing rules. Some students only have either online classes or both online and face to face. Having online classes makes it harder to socialize and it also makes the class less engaging.
The campus itself gave a little life to the little town considering Ada has nothing to do. Now that COVID is in town, it has really made things hard and everything has been constantly changing.
Physical and contact sports have been cancelled for the season. In order to make social distancing happen, we would have to space ourselves out. You can’t distance yourself in contact sports. We also can’t be in large gatherings, which means organizations must meet online or in the large tent on the tundra. Some events can take place but your event plan has to be approved by the school first to make sure it will follow the news rules. Most students can now say all of their schedules are similar to each other. A typical day in a students life on campus will consist of just going to or attending class, homework, eating, and maybe one activity if it follows the guidelines. Many of us stay in our dorms or indoors since there aren’t many events going on out doors on campus. Some students can say a typical day on campus is actually pretty boring.
Considering that we can’t sit in most restaurants now and can’t be around a lot of people, some of us just eat alone else where or we find a small group of people to eat with. The dining hall now uses plastic to-go boxes and plastic ware. Mac is also not self served anymore, to minimize the amount of people touching the utensils. Many students are wary of this change. One student explained “I haven’t ate in Mac this semester simply because the food was never good to me anyway. I’m taking this opportunity to cook more.” Wow now lets you use meal swipes all day in case students don’t make it to the dining hall on time or if they just don’t want food from Mac. The Polar Espresso Cafe has closed down in Mac but Northern Lights Cafe is still located in Heterick Memorial Library. It also has a new service window so if you don’t want to come inside or if the line is at full capacity, you could stand outside and order. Heterick Memorial Library will also let you consume food and drinks but only in enclosed spaces.
ONU has done a good job helping to provide ways to stay COVID free. Sanitize stations have been set up in every work out room, classroom, dorms and academic buildings. Students are also required to sanitize their work areas before they sit down. All students were provided with healthcare kits from the university on move in day. All kits have very important things such as a first aid kit, medicine, hand sanitizer, thermometer, and a face mask. Students and staff are also required to keep up with their health, take their temperatures and monitor their symptoms on a daily basis. It is that person’s job to be responsible enough to go to the health center and tell them about any symptoms they may have. If associated with someone with COVID or has been around someone who has must be quarantined for 14 days in their dorm. They are not allowed to leave, classes are automatically excused and food is brought to that quarantined person by the campus.
The new campus rules have been strictly enforced once school started. Wearing a mask is mandatory in all academic buildings, dorms, restaurants and outside. However, when eating, biking, exercising or in your own room, you aren’t required to wear a mask. Classrooms are set up for students to be more than a desk away from each other. They use stickers on every other desk to remind students not to sit there. Outside and indoor seating also use stickers to separate the students from sitting right next to each other. All classrooms, academic and public buildings have an occupancy number so that it doesn’t get crowded and people can properly social distance. There are also floor stickers in all buildings to remind students how far apart they should be from each other.
When in line for the work out room or food in the Dining Hall and Wow Cafe, you will have to stand on the stickers and there are ropes to lead you to the entrance. Most buildings and rooms are now using two different ways for students to come in and out of. The entrances are different from the exits now, just so that not everyone is coming in and out through the same door at the same time. The library requires you to wear a mask, but not if you are in an enclosed space and most of those spaces are on the second and third floor.
All students have their own opinion on how it’s been back on campus so far. For example one student expresses, “I think the university didn’t put much thought into this process and I feel like it was a selfish decision to make us come back and put us at more risk of getting it. We can avoid places at home however we can’t avoid going to class because we all obviously want to pass our classes and graduate.” Many also are struggling to stay engaged in their online classes. For instance, some students such as Julia Habegger when she expresses “I have hybrid classes which are some of the overwhelming parts of school.” Another expresses “Hybrid. Not so well. Sometimes it gets confusing.”
Along with academic struggles, many students are struggling to stay socially connected. One student expresses “I haven’t been doing many activities while social distancing because of my concern with the parties that happened during the final move on the weekend.” Another also states that “I don’t hang out with anyone. I’m either in my room or classroom.” Being back on campus has all taken a toll on us in some way.
Ohio Northern has set many rules in place just like any other university. However it is very unfortunate for us because we are back at school but in a town where there isn’t anything to do. We all went from having fun and partying to literally having a boring schedule.
All these new rules and regulations just hit us, and now we have to treat it as if it’s our normal. If we didn’t keep up with our health before, we definitely do now.