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Starting college in a pandemic

 The first year of college is an opportunity to discover new experiences, to meet different people and to expand horizons. However, this year has brought on its fair share of challenges to overcome, especially for those finishing high school and starting college in the middle of a pandemic. 

Willow Duncan, a graduate of Chapel Hill High School and Tyler Junior College freshman, said she is looking forward to “the environment and being able to become my own person and experience a higher education.” 

Duncan is a theatre major and wants to achieve her career goal of becoming a theatre teacher. 

“For theatre, I want to get a better understanding on how to get along with my cast mates and how to work on characters. 

Universities across the nation have created plans tailored to protect the health and safety of their students. 

With the help of the COVID-19 Task Force, TJC is implementing COVID-19 procedures to reduce the spread of the virus among faculty, staff, and students. Procedures include practicing social distancing on campus and requiring masks for in-person instruction and while on campus. 

Natelie Jones, a graduate from Frankston High School and Tyler Junior College freshman, said her “freshman year of college won’t look like how I had imagined it’d be.” 

Another incoming student, Daisy Villanueva, explains how she feels entering a new school year in the middle of a pandemic. 

Villanueva, a graduate of Kemp High School and TJC freshman said, “It’s a bit weird, strange and definitely unexpected the way things are going. There will be challenges everyone will face, but I think we’ll get through it.” 

This fall semester, TJC will have a different feel than what students are used to. Community and public events have been postponed or canceled to minimize risk to the community by limiting overall attendance, according to the TJC Fall 2020 plan. 

Incoming freshman Jamya Scales said herself and other first-year students are unable to experience typical college traditions this semester. “Anything can happen at any time and you have to be prepared,” Scales said. 

TJC is working to create recreational opportunities outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained and activities can be enjoyed, said the TJC Fall 2020 plan. 

“In a way, some things haven’t really changed with day to day things and going to school. There are just more things to be cautious about. I hope everyone stays safe!” Villanueva said. 

TJC is offering courses in person, online or hybrid options through TJC Your Way. For more information on TJC Your Way, visit tjc. edu/yourway. 

“I realized that even if we weren’t in a worldwide pandemic, things never go exactly as planned anyway, so that’s helping to soften the blow a little bit,” Jones said. “You have to stay flexible and willing to adapt.” 

According to the TJC Fall 2020 Plan, “To ensure compliance with state and local guidelines for a healthy campus/ healthy workplace, TJC expects everyone on campus to adhere to personal safety best practices as outlined by the CDC, which includes handwashing, the use of face coverings, physical distancing and symptom monitoring.” 

For more information on the Fall 2020 Plan, visit

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