It was a cloudy and quiet morning at Schar Center as Elon University freshmen drove up for their required health check-in with their families. With few cars in line and sometimes no students in the parking lot, cars pulled up to one of 12 outdoor stations.
Before beginning the process of moving into their residence hall, freshmen were assigned a time to arrive at Schar Center for their health check-in. Elon freshman Samantha Direnzo said Elon has done a great job preparing for the upcoming semester, and this can be seen at the check-in.
“It was just kind of really exciting that it's like, ‘okay, it’s move-in day. It’s like really here,’” Direnzo said. “I thought that it was gonna be a lot like longer lines and stuff like that, but it was really smooth and a really easy process.”
Elon freshman Danniya Robertson agrees.
“I feel like Elon is picking a good approach with COVID-19,” Robertson said. “So I'm actually really excited. I'm not really nervous about anything.”
Video by Isabella Seman.
John Barnhill ‘92, a member of the Elon Ready & Resilient committee and associate vice president for university advancement, was in charge of coordinating health check-ins. Barnhill said this was one of his responsibilities from the committee.
Barnhill said the check-in was designed “for the worst, but expecting the best.” However, the check-ins have been going on since Monday for returning students and faculty and staff, and Barnhill said the university has seen positive results.
“It’s gone really well,” Barnhill said. “Largely because we've staggered the crowds so that not everybody came at 8:00 a.m. on the first day and that has really helped us.”
Mike Ward, deputy director of athletics and another member of the committee, also helped organize the check-in process. He said he wanted to make sure volunteers at the stations were able to create a high energy environment to help welcome freshmen to their first day at Elon.
“It was a very competitive signup process for the volunteer spots today because everybody wants to be a part of first year move-in,” Ward said. “Just the excitement. We've all been there on your first day.”
Even though the drive-up stations were outside for the check-in, some students did have to go into Schar Center.
Staff at Schar Center will also be checking to make sure each student has completed other university-required tasks to participate in the semester. These tasks are completion of the required PCR COVID-19 test, Elon’s required health training — during which students are asked to sign the Healthy Elon Commitment — and the submitting immunization records.
Students who hadn’t completed all necessary actions or have a high temperature at the time of their check-in were asked to go inside. Robertson had not submitted her COVID-19 test results yet and had to go inside, but she said the process inside was quick and still said she had a good experience checking in.
“It was nice,” Robertson said. “It was really nice. That was my first time actually being in Schar Center and stuff. I liked it.”
Elon freshman Daniel Heslian said he’s trying to focus on the positives as he left Schar Center to move into his dorm in the Danieley Neighborhood. He said he wants to be able to make friends this semester, but not get in trouble in the process.
“[I’m going to] be aware of my surroundings and know that I could be hurting other people without wearing my mask,” Heslian said. “I just gotta make sure I'm focused on doing the right thing at all times.”
As for Direnzo, she said while she thinks the university has done a great job communicating rules and guidelines for students, it’s also on her to keep herself and others safe.
“I'm definitely always wearing a mask,” Direnzo said. “I think that's one of the biggest things to do. Doing their daily health checks that I know that we all have to do. That's really important. And just making sure that you're being honest with yourself whether or not you're feeling okay.”
Barnhill said the future of the semester is “dependent on everyone’s behavior” but is confident that Elon students want to be on campus and will follow the rules.
“If we all wear masks, we wash our hands, if we practice safe practices, we're going to stay open for the fall,” Barnhill said. “If people go a little crazy, they do things they're not supposed to, they don't wear masks, they have high-risk behavior, we're not going to stay open.”