LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Nearly 600 first-year Bellarmine University students arrived on campus Friday to move into residence halls and begin orientation programs.
RJ Moore is a first-year student from Dallas who drove to Louisville with his parents.
“I’m excited, y’know, it’s a whole new chapter of my life and I’m ready to be a part of it and be a part of the community,” he said.
Moore’s father Roger said the move-in was well coordinated. Families were given limited time slots to limit the number of people entering each residence hall.
“As far as taking everybody’s temperature, getting everybody checked in and escorting them to their dorms. All the staff here has been great,” he said.
Moore tells WAVE 3 it wasn’t a “shock” to see his son leave home because he attended a boarding high school for three years.
“He had to come home early in the spring because of COVID and we got used to having him around and now we’re turning him loose again,” he said.
The coronavirus is still a concern for Moore who believes his son and other students will follow safety procedures.
“The whole country has learned what they should and shouldn’t be doing and I think people have gotten a lot better as far as social distancing, wearing masks and washing their hands,” he said.
At Bellarmine, students will be required to wear facial coverings in public spaces, maintain physical distancing of 6 feet when appropriate, and submit to daily temperatures check.
Speaking to local news outlets, University President Dr. Susan Donovan said she still wants the fall semester to be engaging.
“Our staff has worked very hard on this move-in to try and normalize it,” she said. “The [students] want to be back, they’re excited to be back.”
Donovan said the university will still have in-person orientation programs and church services although people will be distanced.
“I think it’s going to be more normal than if they were sitting at home, but it’s certainly ...we’re going to ease into it and hopefully get all the traditions that are really important to our students,” she said.
Donovan said the biggest challenge for the fall semester was figuring out classroom safety. Now, each classroom has a camera so lectures can be streamed and students will have a mix of online and in-person classes in more open and public spaces.
Donovan went on to say that the university had established a task force on testing, health protocols, and cleaning.
“It’s pretty comprehensive and extensive work … now we’ll see how well we planned,” she said.
When asked about the ASUN Conference’s decision to postpone fall sports, Donovan said it was “sad” for seniors, fans, and the student body. She explained that students and athletic staff were included in decision making calls between the school and its athletic conference.
“It really gets down to how quickly you’re going to get the tests back. We had all the protocols in place but it really just seemed like the right thing to do for the fall sports … and we’re actually going to explore whether we can do some competition for those fall sports in the spring. We haven’t made that decision final yet” she said.
Donovan said student-athletes make up 19% of Bellarmine’s student population and 2020 was the first year the university was considered a D1 school.
Moore tells WAVE 3 he was also disappointed by the news because he was recruited to play lacrosse for Bellarmine. Still, he said he's ready to go back to school and he trusts his future classmates to follow health and safety precautions.
“After losing a couple of months last year, I kind of want to be on campus just to be with everybody, like my friends and my teammates,” he said.
Bellarmine’s fall semester will be shorter than usual. Classes start August 20, there will be no fall break and students will take their final exams from home after Thanksgiving break.