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A New, Fairly Normal Year Begins At UWF

Morgan Givens
New Argonauts, with the help of their families, check in on campus and move into various residence halls as part of Move-In Day on Aug. 18, 2020.

The students have moved in and the new school year is underway at the University of West Florida.

“We haven’t seen a lot of students on campus for the last year or so, and so it’s really nice to welcome them back,” said Dr. Kim LeDuff, vice president for academic engagement and student affairs at UWF. She was speaking last Friday afternoon during the move-in day for students on campus. She says the day looked very different than last year’s move-in event.

“This year feels a little more normal than it did last year. Last year we did a drive-through check-in, but this year (the students) are actually able to come on to campus and come into their housing unit and check-in. it’s just an exciting time.”

And not everyone getting settled in is a student.

“I’ve already been out to the halls some this week just to get to know the students who are moving in,” said Mary Anderson, the new dean of students at UWF. She took over the position in July and is taking her time to get to know the students and the campus. “I’ve also had the opportunity to meet some of our student leaders from S.G.A., and really just learning about the campus population from my team, from the student affairs team as well as students themselves who I’ve been talking to.”

“We are back to pre-COVID face-to-face classes for the most part,” said Dr. Martha Saunders, president of the University of West Florida. She says that students are moving into dorms that are full. “We’re packed! We are packed. We’re full in the dorms. So there’s more life (on campus)."

Dr. Saunders has also been getting acquainted with some new faces during the move-in period on campus. "I ran into a couple of new students this week. They looked like they were lost and I asked them if I could help. And they were looking for a building and I walked them over there and I said ‘Are you new students?’ And they said ‘Well, not exactly. We were here last year but we were not here’.”

Saunders and the rest of the university’s students, staff, and faculty understand that while things are slowly returning to normal, the pandemic is far from over.

“It’s still with us. And it’s going to be with us for a while and we’re just going to have to learn to adapt. There are going to be ‘mask days’ and there are going to be ‘not-mask days’ and we are pushing hard to get people vaccinated. That’s the best advice we have gotten and that’s the best advice that we pass on and we’ll try to make it easy.

And to make it easy, on August 25 and 26 UWF is sponsoring shuttle busses for all students to the CVS on 9 Mile Road so they can get vaccinated if they wish.

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.