Re-Entry

And here he is, back once again in his dorm room, and hoping the university will be able to keep the students on campus safely this time.

And this weekend, another chapter began in the continuing saga of my son’s first year of college.

JMU started, as scheduled, in August. We packed up a rented minivan, drove down to Harrisonburg, and moved him into his dorm.

The following weekend, I was back in Harrisonburg to bring him an electronic keyboard (piano, not typing) that he needed for a class. A day or two later, the school announced that there were too many Coronavirus cases on campus and not enough quarantine and isolation space to keep up with them, so campus was pretty much shutting down, with exemptions granted on a case-by-case basis for dorm residents who wanted to stay for one reason or another.

So for the third weekend in a row, I was back at JMU to help him move temporarily out of his dorm room. Thank goodness he was allowed to leave most of his stuff there.

Now, after four weeks of taking online classes from home, we took him back to school over the weekend. Over the past month, the school has found more quarantine and isolation spaces; added takeout options, lowered capacity, and expanded hours at the dining halls; and started more strictly enforcing the rules it already had in place.

Over the summer, we had booked a place to stay for the first weekend in October, which was supposed to be Parents’ Weekend. Of course, that had been canceled, but I hung onto the reservation, and it turned out to be the weekend we had to move him back into the dorm, so we were able to use it after all. We drove down Friday, moved him in Saturday, and came back home Sunday, leaving him — for the second time — at the university. And now I’m missing him all over again.

Classes start today, some of them online and some in person. I have mixed feelings. On one hand, this is a nasty virus and I don’t want him or any students exposed to it. On the other hand, I was watching with dismay as, after getting off to a good start his first two weeks at home, he seemed to slip back into his last-quarter-of-high-school online learning habits, which involved a lot of video games. I know it’s a weird, disturbing first year of college for everyone, so I’m trying to cut him some slack, but it did have me worried. I think he’ll do better back in a university setting.

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