Bucknell University emphasizes more testing for the new semester

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LEWISBURG, UNION COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Schools across Pennsylvania are eyeing up the return of students in one way or another.

COVID testing is going to be vital for not just students and faculty at Bucknell University, but across the Keystone State.

“I’ll be honest, I think a lot of people were betting against Bucknell last semester. I was one of them, not because I wanted to be, but just because I think everyone was trying to think realistically. Is this even possible?” said Kaitlin McClain, resident advisor and junior at Bucknell University.

The fall semester proved it was possible and Bucknell administrators are looking forward to the spring return.

“93% of our expected student body will be on campus. Now we’re getting ready to bring everyone back again, and hopefully we will remain as successful as we were in the autumn,” said Robert Midkiff, vice president of strategic initiative at Bucknell University.

“I think there’s a lot of excitement and appropriate anxiety,” said Catherine O’neil, Medical Director, Bucknell University.

With roughly three and a half thousand of the bison herd returning to Lewisburg, O’Neil’s biggest concern is “COVID-fatigue.”

“It can be difficult to maintain a level of vigilance that needs to happen to have a college experience happen.”

There aren’t many resident advisors. McClain, who is an RA and EMT, says she’s seen some of the worst of this pandemic and appreciates the efforts on Bucknell’s campus.

“Definitely makes me a little more confident coming back because I know we’re also taking the same precautions here on campus,” said McClain.

She says resident assistants have new responsibilities with the ongoing pandemic.

“There’s two main roles with the RA position this year and I think that the first one is obviously, just unfortunately, being the mask police.”

Administration, faculty and students understand coming back is a team effort.

“Everyone has an individual responsibility, and along with that, everyone has the responsibility of keeping the people next to them in check. And I think that last semester was a testament to the fact that we can do that.”

On top of ramped up testing and plenty of communication with the campus community, many schools are also trying to secure vaccines for their students and faculty to make sure the community remains safe.

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