YSU Students Back in Classrooms as Semester Begins

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – His first year on campus, Youngstown State University sophomore David Rivera didn’t get the entire college experience.

Masks, social distancing and everything else stemming from the height of the pandemic squashed most activities and moved his classes to virtual environments.

“So far, it’s nice to see a lot of people out walking to class,” Rivera said Monday as the new school year started. “It feels a little bit more lively.”

YSU junior Justine Knauf prefers being on campus. She likes being sociable, but understands the precautions taken last school year during the brunt of the pandemic.

“I’m a people person,” she said. “I like being in the classroom. … The professors did a nice job, though, of adapting to our online environment.”

She said the hardest part of being online was not being able to collaborate with classmates, but there were online discussion boards to do that virtually.

“It’s a little bit easier in the classroom,” she said. “You can talk to your classmates while you’re there.”

Claire Berardini, YSU’s associate provost for student success, said she and her colleagues were happy to see everybody back on campus. She said there were about 1,000 students on campus the past week getting set up for the start of classes. 

“It’s great to have that energy again,” she said. 

The school is having its welcome week with different events planned around campus. Information tents were erected outside Kilcawley Center, Maag Library and DeBartolo Hall to assist first-year students.

Puppy Palooza is on campus from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday as kittens and puppies are on campus to lower the stress levels of the YSU students.

Painting the rock outside of Kilcawley Center is taking place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, along with other happenings around there that day.

A full list of the week’s events can be found HERE.

There is a mask mandate for students to wear face coverings while indoors, but they do not have to be worn outside. 

“I think we’re all kind of equally excited about that kind of connection,” Berardini said.

After spending all of last school year wearing a mask at Canfield High School, Rivera says wearing a mask indoors doesn’t bother him. 

There are plenty of sanitizing stations around campus to help people keep their hands clean.

“After a while, you get used to the masks,” he said. “It’s kind of like the same thing. Get back to work.”

Knauf said it’s nice to see people interacting around campus.

She works on campus, so she was around campus this summer. As she’s finishing her undergraduate degree, being involved around campus is something that she’s looking forward to doing.

“It’ll be nice to get involved a little bit more now that we have that opportunity,” Knauf said.

Seeing faces while wandering around campus is something that means a lot to Rivera.

“It means a lot more than I thought it would originally, just kind of seeing new people, new faces, new things,” he said. “Things are different from how high school was or how last year was.”

Pictured: YSU sophomore David Rivera was excited to get a traditional college campus experience after pandemic safety measures moved his freshman year to a virtual environment.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.