For SUNY Adirondack students, masks a small price to pay for in-person classes

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QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The sun shone on Wednesday on a busy campus at SUNY Adirondack.

This year’s students have a lot more to do on the school’s campus than last year, as classes have gone all in-person again, back up from last year’s metric of 75% remote learning in order to promote social distancing.

COVID-19 cases are still high in Warren County, though, and the school is requiring masks inside all buildings and classrooms.

Shortly after the start of school last year, a large portion of Adirondack Hall was repurposed into a coronavirus testing location for students, who were required to get tested regularly. That requirement is no more, but testing is still available on the second floor of the student union building on the other side of campus.

The crowd coming to campus is about average for the school. The residence hall’s dorms are at around two-thirds capacity, partially due to social distancing precautions but also partially just because some rooms were empty.

For students, having to wear a mask in class is a small price to pay to be back on campus, instead of spending all day at home on a computer.

“Wearing the mask sucks, but I’d much rather wear the mask than have to go online again,” said freshman Lauren Reynolds. “That was awful.”

Freshmen on campus Wednesday are coming from a senior year of high school also entirely affected by the pandemic.

Freshman Jacob Otoupal graduated from South Glens Falls High School in the spring, and was a dancer in the South High Marathon Dance in May.

That fundraiser dance was a capstone of COVID adaptation, with students dancing outdoors at the Six Flags Great Escape amusement park in Lake George.

For Otoupal – who says he was a pretty good dancer – any step is a good step.

“I think it’s important to have our masks and get our shots.”

While the students enjoy the return to in-person learning, school president Kristine Duffy says that last year’s online offerings have left their mark.

Some classes are piloting a simultaneous in-person/online program, where students learn in a classroom while others tune in virtually.

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