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NIU Freshmen Arrive On Campus Ready To Start Third School Year Impacted By COVID-19

Notebooks? Check. Backpack? Check. N95 Facemasks? Check. After the last few years, NIU freshmen are used to pandemic protocols.

Northern Illinois University freshmen descended onto campus for the first time on Wednesday. This is the start of their college journey and their third pandemic-affected school year in a row.

Olivia Lesniewski and her mom are grabbing boxes from their car trunk ready to carry into the dorms. She says she’s not worried about COVID precautions diminishing her time at NIU.

“I'm vaccinated and wearing a mask doesn't bother me too much. So as long as everyone's safe, it doesn't really hurt me or break me down or anything,” she said.

She’s used to pandemic protocols. As a music student, she sang with a mask all last year. She says she’s fine with wearing them in class, as is mandated at NIU.

Lesniewski’s mom is just relieved she chose a college only 45 minutes from home.

Angel Smith and her mom ran to Walmart to pick up the last item off her shopping list before dropping her off: disposable face masks.

Along with mandatory vaccinations or COVID tests, it’s another reminder that the college experience is a bit different during COVID-19. But that’s not what Angel is most concerned about.

“I am nervous about the in-class part because I haven't been in a classroom or class setting in so long,” she said.

Over a year, to be exact. She learned remotely all of last year, so she barely remembers what it’s like sitting in class taking notes.

Most NIU classes are in-person this fall. But if the campus case rate hits 8% due to the Delta variant -- Angel could be back to remote learning this year too.

Peter joins WNIJ as a graduate of North Central College. He is a native of Sandwich, Illinois.