MISSOULA — The University of Montana came back to life on Wednesday as students were allowed into the classroom for the first time in five months.
Excitement and apprehension filled the air as a sense of normalcy was balanced with the fear of the spread of the coronavirus.
Senior Rayshia Roberts is glad to start her final year in the way she’s accustomed to.
“I think having that in person experience is definitely good," Roberts said. "I like that we’re getting Griz kits, we can clean our areas when we’re done, they’re making sure we’re sitting in the same seats.”
Meanwhile, incoming freshman Kaleb Metzger says he feels the university did a great job of preparing the students for the new world of social distancing and following other proper protocols. He said he hopes everyone is taking those lessons to heart.
“You’ve just kind of got to trust everyone around you that they’re being precautions and not trying to get others sick," Metzger said.
Junior Renee Ross is taking an outdoor modern dance class. She says her concern is the ability to learn the proper techniques outdoors, as she would in the studio.
“I think we will get something different than we would have," Ross said. "There are a plethora of concerns that are opened up about the quality of education.”
She adds that she has full confidence in her professors to do the best they can with what the challenges they face.
Instructor Heidi Eggert says being outside requires a unique focus for her students, but says it presents new ways to learn.
“I’m starting out with the same goals in mind as any other semester, but I’m trying to encourage flexibility and adaptability," Eggert said. "To be able to have these tents outside so we have a little bit of shelter, a designated spot is tremendous and I’m over the moon."
UM will have a better idea of how well the students are meeting the challenges that COVID-19 brings over the next few weeks.