SRA Scholar Returns to College, Finds Campus Transformed by COVID-19

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RICHMOND (KPIX) — Madison Schmidt packed her suitcase with clothes, books and high hopes as she prepared to leave her home in Richmond head off to Beloit College in Wisconsin for her sophomore year.

“It’s a little nerve-racking,” Schmidt said of her return to school. “[But] I’m kind of confident that … my school’s plan is good.”

Freshman year was a breeze for Schmidt, who had graduated high school with college credits under her belt.

“It was pretty easy for me because I’d already done community college,” Schmidt explained. “It was more like socially adjusting and then like adjusting to the weather because it’s Wisconsin and it’s legendary for its snows.”

There was no snow when Schmidt returned to school in early fall. Instead, she found a largely empty campus as fellow students are now staying inside their dorm rooms and learning online, with strict guidelines for socialization.

“We have to wear masks all of the time,” said Schmidt. “Except for when we are in our rooms.”

Restrictions for students include social distancing and to-go meals only from the dining halls which are closed for in-person meals.

For now solitude is working for Schmidt. She has time to focus on studying and the social distancing is a comfort as some fellow students have tested positive for COVID-19.

Still, Schmidt hopes that school soon will include in-person classes with friends but only when it’s safe to do so.

“Sometimes it gets a bit lonely,” Schmidt admits. “[When friends ask me to hang out, I tell them no] I’m just going to stay home and watch Transformers again.”