TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- On Monday, around 75,000 students will be returning to classes in person at Arizona State University.
They’re the first in the state to start the spring semester with in-person classes but not without stricter Covid testing requirements. Freshmen Brandon Nason and Josh Cicalo have never known college without a pandemic as they prepare to go into their second semester at ASU.
“Everyone hates it. It has literally been a weird experience,” Cicalo said.
“It’s definitely not what I expected for college,” said Nason.
They both say they left their home states, Texas and California, in the middle of a pandemic, in the pursuit of a little more freedom. Social life really takes a hit on that, only to be met with some pretty strict campus policies.
“You have to get a negative Covid test to come on,” said Nason.
“No outside guests,” said Cicalo.
“Which sucks, like family they had that one day to help us move in and then they’re were gone,” said Nason.
A letter sent to the ASU community says that the spring semester is being modified to end on May 1.
Back in the fall, university officials say they tried a more relaxed approach but contribute that to a large spike in cases seen shortly after classes began.
“We feel like if you are in a structured classroom and adhering to public health protocols, generally speaking, you’re going to be okay,” said Katie Paquet, VP of Media Relations.
Even though total enrolment is up 7 percent this semester, the amount of students living on campus is down by around 5,000.
“Yes, it is. It’s pretty lonely,” said Nason.
“We are giving students a choice in terms of how they want to learn,” said Paquet.
They’re also upping the number of random Covid testing on students and staff from 4% to now 25% every week.
“And that will give us a good sense of what’s happening with the spread of the virus in the ASU community,” said Paquet.
A team of ASU students just won $500,000 for designing a better face mask.
“Hoping things start to get a little better so we can do more because it makes everything a nightmare,” said Paquet.
Meanwhile, the university has already canceled spring break in exchange for a shortened semester.