EAST STROUDSBURG, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)— The sun was shining down on hundreds of East Stroudsburg University freshmen and their families as they were moving into their residence halls on Thursday.

“I feel like just kind of being around a whole new group of people and meeting everybody and getting a feel of what it’s like to be not with my mom and dad,” said Hannah Ressler, an incoming freshman at ESU.

Move-in bins were stacked to the brim as students started the next chapter of their lives.

With a large group of new students making their way to the Poconos for the fall semester, interim-president Kenneth Long said their enrollment numbers are up 40 percent compared to last year.

“Pre-covid numbers. We’re looking at somewhere around 1,200 students moving in on-campus. Our largest entering class since 2018, 2019,” Long told Eyewitness News.

Like many other universities, ESU saw a decrease in its student population due to the pandemic.

President Long says many covid restrictions have been lifted on campus, but they will continue to monitor the spread.

“This year I’m looking for everyone to get back to somewhat of a normal. I’m going to say the new normal. You know, after two years of covid, it’s been tough. Not only on the students but on the faculty and staff,” President Long hoped.

Rolling into a new semester, returning students helping out with move-in say they’re ready for the fall.

“I’m very excited. I feel like a lot of people are coming off of COVID and having some issues with that and trying to get outside and get involved, just with a lot of restrictions we had before. So I’m excited to get out and be more social, have more fun going on kind of situation,” said Brian Akonu, resident advisor and student government president at ESU.

Nearly 1,000 freshmen and transfer students are expected to arrive on campus Friday.

If you’re expecting to hit the road in the area, be aware of more traffic and congestion as move-in continues throughout the weekend.