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August 26, 2020

The beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year is one that looks like no other in our long history.

Over the past two weeks, students who’ve opted to learn on campus have arrived, some quarantining in residence halls — armed with their preferred entertainment for killing time — and all pledging to follow the Green and Gold Promise, protect the community and adhere to health and safety measures. For faculty and staff, returning to campus this semester is the result of months of hard work, planning and execution, from implementing a rigorous COVID-19 testing program, to transforming classrooms and buildings, to adjusting to new modes of instruction. It’s finally “Go!” time.

Here’s a glimpse at life on campus as we mark the start of a new academic year, and a new normal for students around the world.

Tents outside UVM's Davis Center for COVID-19 testing; on right, students smile in masks

There’s a new kind of test for students this fall. COVID-19 testing is a core part of the strategy for keeping campus healthy. Students received at-home tests before coming to campus; ahead of the first day of classes, all are required to take a Day-0 test. Pictured is the entrance to testing at the Davis Center. Head to the Return to Campus website for the latest on testing guidelines.

COVID-19 safety signage around UVM's campus

COVID-19 safety signage around UVM's campus

Signage, decals and more guide the way. Be on the lookout for these helpful green markers to navigate campus with caution and courtesy for others. 

A student walks in a mask on UVM's green; a large stack of boxes sits in a Davis Center ballroom

Don’t leave home without it. Masks are mandatory on UVM’s campus, and in the State of Vermont in any public space where distancing is not possible. At last count, 30,000 masks are on campus, ready for distribution. All students will receive masks as part of a welcome kit. 

Two students in masks smile in front of University Heights, sitting and talking

Ansley Kish ’23 (right) is from Atlanta—and very happy to be in Vermont. “I’m really grateful for the attitude here,” she says. “People in Vermont are dedicated to doing the right thing, looking out for each other, to fix the problem. It’s a special place.” Abby Golitz ’23 (left) is from Chicago. 

Protective barriers in front of Howe Library circulation desk; spaces seating in Howe Library lounge

Safety measures stand ready at Howe Library. UVM Libraries currently offer curbside service for books and media equipment, five days a week. Find the latest information on hours and services

First year students play guitar under a tree and read on a bench, in masks

The usual signs of pre-semester activity are still here, of course, like first years Luke Molina ’24 and Haywood Schwartz ’24 enjoying guitars and summer weather in the outdoor amphitheater. Nearby, first-year student Molly Ramirez ’24, reads “The Ghost Map” — “the story of London’s most terrifying epidemic,” in 1854. It’s her summer reading assignment in the Honors College for “The Pursuit of Knowledge,” taught by professor Jennifer Prue. This year, the course will focus on “Pandemics, Culture, and Society,” a timely theme. “It’s interesting to see the comparison between then and now,” Ramirez says, “there was a lot of rejection of science then, like today.” She’s a “little bit nervous,” she says, about the start of the semester, “but excited too, to finally get back to school.” Ramirez, from Long Island, thinks she’ll major in engineering — “or something with math,” she says. “It’s fun solving problems.” 

First year student walks on a slackline

Among the students who quarantined on-campus this month: Hiroki Soler ’24. He’s from Hawaii and chose UVM because “my family met here,” he says, plus, “great financial aid.” He’s pre-med, and was, at the time of this photo, on his fourth day of quarantine. “I’m living through it,” he says, “and looking forward to getting outdoors a lot this fall.” 

Spaced seating in Central Campus Dining Hall; students carry take-out

Take a (distanced) seat. Dining halls around campus have limited seating, in accordance with Vermont Department of Health Guidelines, plus options for take-out. More on the Fall 2020 dining experience

Two people walk in masks in front of UVM's Davis Center

Graduate student Jessica Cole counts bees in UVM's Horticulture Farm

On campus and beyond, vital research continues, with many once-shuttered labs now back up and running with appropriate safety measures. Here, Jessica Cole counts plants and bees at UVM’s Horticulture Research Center. Now beginning her third year of graduate study, she’s doing field work on how pesticides affect bees—and that means finding and counting lots of them, from large bumblebees to tiny sweat bees, and seeing what plants they’re visiting. Cole aims to work for a state agricultural Extension service, “helping educate people about how much we depend on bees,” she says. 

Photos by Josh Brown, Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist and Sally McCay. Writing contributed by Josh Brown, Kaitie Catania and Andrea Estey.

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