For many students, the pandemic has halted the most quintessential parts of the college experience in San Luis Obispo: discovering independence and navigating the craziness of dorm life, experiencing Cal Poly’s iconic freshman orientation (WOW), befriending students with shared interests through clubs and intramural sports, going on traditional 21st birthday bar crawls downtown and attending Thursday night farmers’ markets.
But the vaccine rollout has offered a glimmer of hope that college life may be able to return to normal soon, as Cal Poly expects to offer a majority of classes in-person in the fall.
On April 7, San Luis Obispo County expanded vaccine appointment eligibility to individuals aged 16 and older. More vaccine appointments are available to students now than ever, as Campus Health and Wellbeing has started offering student vaccination appointments at the Health Center on campus, and an additional vaccine clinic has recently opened in the University Union (UU).
Since opening on April 23, the Health Center has administered 1,034 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and another 351 doses of Moderna, according to university spokesperson Matt Lazier.
Additionally, updated guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expanded activities fully vaccinated individuals can participate in, such as gathering indoors with other vaccinated people and engaging in outdoor, crowd-less activities without wearing a mask.
Since receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine several weeks ago, mechanical engineering junior Ishan Jandaur said he has been able to ease the restrictions on his social life.
“Before I got the vaccine, whenever I’d hang out with someone it would kind of be like contact tracing,” Jandaur said. “I’d ask them, ‘Who’ve you been hanging out with?’ and that kind of stuff, just to see if they’d been exposed to [COVID-19].”
Now that he is fully vaccinated, he doesn’t feel the need to ask those questions anymore.
Before he was fully vaccinated, Jandaur said he did not even consider going out to bars, even though they were open. Now he feels safe enough to occasionally go to bars with his roommates — an experience he has not been able to have since turning 21.
Many students anticipate being able to expand their circle and meet other students again through group activities, such as clubs and sports.
Industrial technology and packaging junior Vincent Rodriguez is looking forward to his second vaccine appointment after receiving his first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech from the Health Center.
Once fully vaccinated, Rodriguez said that he is eager to play intramural sports and meet new people, although he said that it will “feel weird” to be social again after spending most of his time with his roommates.
“You can tell that you haven’t done it in a while,” he said
Civil engineering junior Aidan McCoy also looks forward to expanding his circle once vaccinated and “being able to hang out indoors guilt-free with other vaccinated households.”
For McCoy, who is originally from Washington, being fully vaccinated means he will feel more comfortable traveling to visit his family back home.
When the pandemic struck in spring of 2020, causing many students to return home to their families, McCoy decided it was safer for him to avoid travel, so he stayed in San Luis Obispo.
As a result, he was unable to see his family for a year.
“I didn’t want to fly back and accidentally bring [COVID-19] back home,” McCoy said.
McCoy is scheduled to receive his second dose soon, and he is looking forward to working in-person at his summer internship and eventually returning to in-person instruction for his senior year in the fall.