MACOMB, Illinois — Hundreds of freshmen began their college journey in Macomb as they moved into Western Illinois University on Thursday, Aug. 18.
Many colleges were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, switching to online learning, social distancing, and masks, but this year, they're back to normal.
"The majority of our classes are all in-person now," WIU Grote Hall RA Cheyenne McClinton said, "and being hands-on, being able to collab with other peer members and classmates is exciting."
WIU President Guiyou Huang noted that enrollment numbers remained steady even through the pandemic and are seeing positive trends.
"We're seeing a real increase in freshmen enrollment and international students," Huang said. "Those two are very bright spots - we're very happy about it. Overall I expect a stable enrollment for the Fall of 2022."
There are still other concerns, such as the rise in monkeypox cases and campus safety.
"We're always mindful of a possible shooting on campus," Huang added, "so again, we'll follow the protocols, and the police officers we have are very good. They know exactly what they do, and they are available, are visible all across the campus."
Despite the issues, the students and faculty still trust their school.
"I believe Western has trained us as RAs and Complex Directors and just faculty overall on what to do and how to be well-prepared for those situations," McClinton said. "So I'm going into this school year very confident that we're well-equipped and ready."
With more COVID restrictions relaxed, the fun times are back as well.
"This weekend we do have a full list of events," WIU Complex Director Brooke McDaniel said. She added that students can now experience "all those different aspects of campus that they'd probably wouldn't have gotten during COVID."
Western Illinois University's first day of class is Aug. 22.