As I headed to stores in Oneonta earlier this week, doing some shopping for both my kids heading off to college, I was very much not alone in my task. Stores were very busy with SUNY Oneonta students returning for the fall semester, getting last-minute needed items, or loading up on groceries for off-campus living. Normally, dealing with the much heavier traffic in town and the store crowds would irritate me but I have come away from the pandemic with a new appreciation for having college students in our city. Despite seeing people wearing masks again (thanks to the Delta variant of COVID-19), it almost seemed like life was "back to normal" and it felt good. I have a feeling that Oneonta business owners are feeling good about it too after suffering for well over a year with greatly reduced customers during this trying time.

I never thought I would be thinking "Welcome back students!" but I sure am and smiling as I say it.

SUNY Oneonta reported on their Facebook page that so far, the processing of moving students in has gone very smoothly and parents are reflecting that with positive comments on their social media. For the first time, there were many sandwich boards up directing new students and their families to campus and there was plenty of staff and volunteers to help on campus as well. That certainly makes everyone involved happier when things go smoothly.

I'm not sure if some of these new student-welcoming procedures are happening at all SUNY campuses or not but I do know that I experienced that same ease when taking one of my sons to college this week and it was incredibly easy! I couldn't believe that student volunteers were actually helping my husband and me, carry my son's large load of dorm room items up to his room on the second floor. We were done much sooner than expected. It made our work so easy and I truly appreciated that as I'm sure many of the SUNY Oneonta families can agree to.

Oneonta residents should be aware that students will continue to move into Oneonta in stages over the weekend so just be aware of the additional traffic and practice patience. It will all settle down soon enough.

If you have concerns about students being vaccinated, SUNY Oneonta reports that as of yesterday, 87% of residential and off-campus students are either fully or partially vaccinated. 76% of their residential and off-campus students are fully vaccinated. COVID testing will be done for college faculty, staff and students at the Alumni Field House on campus and anyone from the campus community who is unvaccinated will have to test weekly.

We all hope that it's a much better year for ALL students!

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