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Northern Illinois University students and staff return to campus

Published: Aug. 24, 2020 at 5:27 PM CDT
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DEKALB, Ill. (WIFR) - Staff and students at Northern Illinois University are back on campus in DeKalb for the first time since March, and although students say they are happy to be back, the experience at the school has changed.

“We all had to be six feet apart and wear masks so it’s a little annoying but it worked quite well,” says Sydney Hamill, a residence hall community advisor at NIU.

“It was weird just because walking in was kind of empty, no one was there,” says NIU senior Maria Potsi.

Students at NIU are doing their best to acclimate themselves to the new environment, a college campus, but say the sights and sounds in DeKalb are far from normal.

“I was really nervous about my residents because when they started moving in no one wanted to talk to me which was so different from what I experienced,” says Hamill.

“Some people on bikes, some people just walking, skateboards, scooters and barely seeing that it honestly looks like it is right out of a movie,” says Vernon Gochee, an employee at the NIU one card office.

Parking lots are half full, students spend less time on campus, and the amount of activity at NIU is noticeably lower.

“It’s so much different because you can barely see anyone like your friends,” says Potsi. “I used to see my friends every time going to class walking together and it’s just been me, it doesn’t even feel like I’m in school right now.”

Students say they want to return to what they feel is the normal college experience, but for the time being, the most important thing is safety.

“You can still have fun with your friends but maybe don’t go to parties until this is over, you can still go to someone’s apartment and hang out there but make sure that you are safe,” says Hammill.

According to the NIU campus COVID-19 dashboard, two students and one employee, who have been to campus in the past 14 days, have tested positive for COVID-19 since August 21st.

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