Students are making their way back to a very different Connecticut College this week.
"We have been rebuilding the college in a whole new form over the course of the summer," said Victor Arcelus, dean of students at Connecticut College in New London. "We have been trying to develop strategies and approaches that continue to focus on safety."
By the end of the week, about 1,400 students will be back on campus. Another 350 students will be studying remotely.
Before students arrive in New London, they are required to get a COVID-19 test and show their test results. Once they get to school, their first stop is at the hockey rink, which has been transformed into a COVID-19 testing center.
In addition to an initial COVID-19 test, students and faculty will be required to get tested at the school's testing center twice a week, every week.
"This is rigorous. This is going to be a part of our daily routine, weekly routine on this campus in a way that none of us ever expected we would be doing," said Arcelus.
According to Arcelus, Connecticut College has contracted with the Broad Institute in Massachusetts for testing. The $1.25 million contract will allow everyone to get tested twice a week. Testing swabs will be brought to Massachusetts daily. Results are expected within 24 hours.
Students and faculty are able to schedule tests and receive results through an app.
"From now until Thanksgiving, be able to have very regular testing and have a very good sense of the degree of which COVID is in our community," said Arcelus. “Identify a person is positive for the most part before they have even experienced any symptoms.”
Students are required to quarantine when they arrive on campus until they receive two negative COVID tests.
Luci McGlynn, a junior on campus, said she has already received results from her first test. She has another test scheduled for this week. McGlynn arrived in Connecticut two weeks ago and quarantined during that time because she is from Minnesota, a state on Connecticut's travel advisory list.
"Anything to get back on campus," said McGlynn.
Samirah Jaigirdar flew in from Bangladesh. She said that the trip was nerve-wracking and hinged upon her getting negative results from a COVID test.
“I am just glad to be back and I will do whatever we need to do to stay back," said Jaigirdar.
In addition to testing, the school is requiring daily screenings. Social distancing signage is plastered across campus. The traditional cafeteria dining area is only open for pick-up meals. Students are required to wear masks and some classes have been moved to larger spaces to accommodate distancing.
The school has also adjusted residential living to eliminate triples and quads. 75 percent of students are in single rooms.
"If everyone puts in the work now that just opens up doors to a bunch of opportunities later," said McGlynn.