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Masked and ready, the Class of 2024 begins moving onto campus

August 17, 2020
photo of students and parents moving inVictoria Hirst ’24, from Haddonfield, New Jersey, and her father, Alan, move belongings into Susan B. Anthony Halls. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)
Health and safety were the order of the day for a “slow roll to move in.”

Sonali Bello ’24 took a leap of faith this week, coming to a place she had never been before: the University of Rochester.

“My visit here was canceled in the spring, so I’ve only seen it online,” Bello said as her mother and cousin unpacked her belongings Monday morning in front of Susan B. Anthony Residential Halls. “It’s beautiful.”

Bello is from Atlanta. Her grandparents live in Brooklyn, and she quarantined there for two weeks beginning August 2 before making the trip to Rochester. She is one of more than 1,250 first-year students in the College—from 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 40 countries across the globe. Another 136 students will be starting their first year at the Eastman School of Music, from 27 states and four countries.

mother and daughter moving in

Sonali Bello ’24 gets a hug from her mother, Stacey, after Sonali moved into Susan B. Anthony Halls. They’re from Atlanta and quarantined at Stacey’s parent’s home in Brooklyn for two weeks before coming  to Rochester. Monday marked the first day Sonali had seen the River Campus in person. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)


Most have chosen in-person instruction, while some have opted to take classes online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bello wanted the “full college experience” and says Rochester offered her that in a safe environment.

“A lot of my classes will have 10 to 13 students, which is perfect,” she says. “I love the size of the University, and how student-led it is. You can shape your own path here.”


Video feature: Keeping students safe as the Class of 2024 moves in


First-year students will move in each day through Thursday, while students in upper classes will return to campus through August 25. Classes start on August 26.

The move-in process also marks a milestone in the University’s months-long planning process to slowly reopen campus for a revamped fall semester. As the Finger Lakes region has been allowed to reopen some businesses and activities due to the area’s relatively low infection rate, the University developed a plan that emphasizes health and safety practices like mandatory mask wearing, physical distancing, and testing and symptom monitoring as well as asking members of the University community to commit to following the guidelines.

student getting COVID-19 test

Rebecca Lundquist ’23, a psychology major from Eagan, Minnesota, receives a COVID-19 test inside the Goergen Athletic Center. All students underwent testing before moving in. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)


Alan Hirst says sending his daughter, Victoria, to college during a pandemic “has always been a concern,” but they never seriously considered having her studying remotely from their home in Haddonfield, New Jersey. “This is where she wants to be, and we hope she can have as much safe interaction as possible,” he says.

student carrying belongings

Hunter Hulsevus ’24, a mechanical engineering major from Bethesda, Maryland, was one of many first-year students who moved into Susan B. Anthony Halls on Monday. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)


The mood Monday was more subdued than previous years. There was no pomp, because of the circumstances. No bands, a cappella singers, or food giveaways.

“It’s just the slow roll to move in,” says Laurel Contomanolis, executive director of residential life and housing services. “It’s a lot different than years past.”

student directing cars for move-in

Andres Garcia Coleto ’21, an optics major and resident advisor from Seville, Spain, directs incoming vehicles in Intercampus Lot. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)


Everyone wore masks, social distancing was practiced, and students moved their belongings into their new rooms in one-hour shifts. Each student also underwent COVID-19 testing in the Goergen Athletic Center.

student and family at Eastman School

Ashlyn Spanarella ’24E, a soprano major at the Eastman School of Music from Louisville, Colorado, gives her mother Jessica a final embrace as dad Joe takes a photo. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)


Contomanolis says the success of this uncharted semester largely will depend on how responsible members of the University community remain. “We’re hoping we can get the message across that we’re all in this together and everyone has a part to play,” she says. “Wear a mask. Stay socially distant. Be responsible.”

students on swings

Qing Yi ’23 (left), a neuroscience and finance double major, and Yi Qing ’23, an optics major, take a moment to ride the swings outside Susan B Anthony Halls. Both are from Beijing, China. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)


Jeffrey Runner, dean of the College, says the administration has spent the summer working to make sure the campus is safe for students, staff, and faculty—including putting larger classes online, spreading students out in smaller classrooms this fall, and requiring everyone to wear a mask. Many students also will live in single rooms on campus.

“Everyone can take care of their own health,” Runner says. “They can wear masks, wash their hands and remain six feet from others. If everyone does that, they will stay healthy.”

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