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UC Santa Barbara opens fall quarter in person with thousands of students on campus during pandemic

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara has thousands of students back on its campus and in the dorms after a year of remote learning and adjusting to life during COVID-19.

The challenges in the last month have been looming with a housing shortage for many students and some of the classes overfilled.

The campus life is coming back into focus with organizations looking for members, campus events being on the calendar and student outreach efforts ranging from COVID protocols to overall safety.

The university is deploying its resources to handle the hot spots, and make the transition smooth for students.

Most recently off-campus hotel rooms were booked in large numbers, with the university offsetting the costs for students, as a way to give replacement housing while they plan on what to do about the room shortage in the area.

There are also many coronavirus responses to make sure students are vaccinated or are receiving tests if they need them.

The rules are posted in a return to campus link on the campus website.

Mask requirements are in place for inside classrooms.

A UC statement says:

The UC Office of the President has established a systemwide vaccine policy, which requires all UC employees and students to be vaccinated against the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus or receive an approved exemption before they will be allowed in any UC facility or office or to participate in any University programs. 

The day included lunch time music in Storke Plaza from  UC Santa Barbara's Arts and Lectures . It helped to make the first day of school festive and welcoming.

For many students, event returning classes, it's the first time they have been on campus.

Henna Ahmed is a student working in the "Ask Me" booth. "We have two incoming classes as well as transfers that have never been on campus before. They're really confused.  It is kind of nice to have this signifier that we're  just here to help. "

For a senior looking to graduate, being around students again created a memorable start to her final months of college.

Rylee Lanza said, "it was like a little bit overwhelming, the amount of people on campus  but it's been really cool and I'm excited to get my last year here."

The students were all quick to recite the protocols.

"We have to take a daily screening test on the internet before every day we come on campus," said Aaron Mendoza.   "Even our professor makes us show it in the class,   and we have to have our masks on 24/7."

 There have been some issues with  students having a tough time getting their classes.

Inside the Lotte Lehmann lecture hall it was overflowing with students. Some were standing. Some were sitting along the walls. They were however, seeing each other and the instructor in person, and for many that was very important.

Carl Dedeyan said, "I think I'm an old school type of person  and I like that 'one on one' connection in person   instead of over the computer virtually. I'm so glad we are back in person and I can socialize with new people and get familiarized with my teachers one on one."     

One senior said, returning after the COVID crisis and Zoom classes has made a difference.  "It's just so weird I feel like a freshman again like I have been struggling to find all my classes and everything," said Keeley Stone. It is kind of like  like starting over. Honestly I am feeling  a lot better about school now than pre Covid.  It's a really good thing."

For more information go to: UCSB COVID information

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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