Anna Feng, a student from China, carries a box of her things out of the Owens Student Center. Feng had to store her things on campus after Brenau transitioned to digital learning in the spring (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Students move onto Gainesville campus under new guidelines ahead of school year

Aug 18, 2020
Kathryne Davis
President Anne Skleder gives Sydney Hencil an elbow bump during drive thru check in. Skleder welcomed students as they checked in. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Move-in day is an exciting time for Brenau students. Some are leaving home for the first time, while others are preparing for their final year as a university student. This year’s move-in day looked different from years past due to the safety measures to protect students and their families from COVID-19.

Students were given an appointment time and day to move in. A drive-through check-in was set up to limit face-to-face contact and avoid crowded hallways and elevators as students moved in their belongings. Instead of the typical in-person orientation, students will be able to watch videos from different faculty and staff members as they begin to navigate their beginning days of the new semester.

“Normally we’re high touch, hands-on, rubbing mom’s back, giving kids big hugs, but COVID has changed our approach,” said Amanda Lammers, vice president of Student Services. “We’re still trying to be high energy. There’s a lot of waving. We’re still giving out goodies, though we’re using gloves and hand sanitizer. I think people feel good about what we’re doing.”

Sami D’Anna traveled from Connecticut with her parents to start her freshman year. The studio art major said she is “thrilled” to become a Golden Tiger.

“This town is gorgeous,” D’Anna said. “It’s so cute. It reminds me of home — except for the weather. It’s hot here.”

Resident Assistant TyLeeah Maddox, left, laughs as she waits to help residents into their rooms. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

D’Anna said that the faculty at Brenau has been very helpful in reassuring her that she’ll have studio space and figuring out class registration.

“She’s been well taken care of,” said D’Anna’s father, Joe.

Where the D’Annas are from in Connecticut was one of the hot spots at the beginning of COVID-19. They are pleased with all of the precautions Brenau has been taking and allowing people from out of state to come a couple of weeks early.

“We know it’s a risk, but it’s worth it to us because there is nothing like having the in-person experience at the university, especially for freshmen,” Joe D’Anna said.

Returning junior biology major TyLeeah Maddox said she is happy to be back.

“I’m excited to see what the new school year is going to bring,” she said. “I had a long summer so I’m just excited to see new faces.”

Maddox plays volleyball in the fall and does track and field in the spring and is glad to be back playing her sports with her teammates.

“I missed my teammates,” she said. “I feel like we’re going to have a great year as long as everybody’s doing what they need to be doing to stay safe.”

Anna Feng, a junior fashion design and music major, was unable to go back home to China so she stayed with friends in Georgia. She enjoyed being able to spend time with her friends but is ready to get back to campus and begin the school year.

“I’m looking forward to this semester,” Feng said. “I know it’s going to be really challenging, but I know that Brenau can make it work. I’m proud of my school.”