Local college students embrace learning and living changes during pandemic

HOUSTON – Gabriel Lee, Jr. kept his head on a swivel as he helped his family guide a cart of essentials to his new home. Through a corridor, to a quad, past dozens of signs reminding people to mask up, Lee moved into college as a freshman at Prairie View A&M University.

”I just love it here already,” Lee said, after meeting his community director and other peer leaders. “Much of the experience mirrored that of years past: signing in, receiving a key, and unpacking.”

“It’s a lot but I think I’m ready. I’ve got my whole family here as support. So, I think it’s going to be a great time,” Lee continued.

Yet, changes were evident -- beyond a mandatory mask order the move-in process had to be expanded: More days to give people the social distance they need to move in safely. It’s part of an extensive plan the university put in place, in an attempt to keep students safe, while keeping COVID-19 at bay.

Lee’s parents said sending their son to college during a pandemic was a tough decision.

”I’m excited. We decided to let our son go away for college in spite of COVID-19, in spite of the fact that they’ll do online classes. We didn’t want him to miss that opportunity to have the freshmen experience,” said Donielle Lee, Gabriel’s mother.

Residential halls have been modified for social distancing. That includes common spaces shared by students. Most classes will meet virtually, when they start Aug. 24.

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