The first wave of college students returning to their dorms aren't finding the typical mobs of students and parents. What they found Friday were strict safety protocols and heightened anxiety amid a global pandemic where virus infections are growing in dozens of states.
In West Virginia, one university put out the welcome mat Friday for students and their families, only to temporarily pull it away.
Over an eight-day stretch, students at West Virginia State University, a small historically black college, were given staggered two-hour time slots to unload belongings into their residence halls. Then were sent home until the start of the fall semester on Aug. 10.
"I know I'm going to do my part, I just hope other people do theirs," WVSU student, Jihad Shockley, said.
Nationwide, it appears that the second surge of confirmed virus cases appears to be leveling off. But scientists warn that trend is driven by four big, hard-hit places — Arizona, California, Florida and Texas — and that cases are rising in close to 30 states in all.
N.C. State staggered the return of its students over 10 days and welcomed the first 900 students to campus where they were greeted Friday by socially distant volunteers donning masks and face shields.
The rite of passage was a well-organized, but low-key affair, as boxes were unloaded, luggage was wheeled and beds were hauled.
"It's just odd not seeing anybody. You expect it to be hustle and bustle and all that around, but there was nothing. It was pretty empty," said Dominick DePaola, an incoming freshman from Charlotte.