Apr 9, 2021 | NEWS | By Mika Alexander | Photo by Patil Khakhamian

Colorado College is planning to hold New Student Orientation (NSO) next fall from Aug. 20 to Aug. 28, 2021. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, new students should prepare to arrive on campus to complete the move-in and testing processes during the week prior.

According to a written statement by associate director of Outdoor Education, David Crye, “An exact schedule is still very much in the works.” The NSO staff is planning a program that includes both in-person and virtual components.

After having a virtual NSO during the fall of 2020, Crye said that Outdoor Ed is working towards returning to a more traditional orientation format. However, this goal is complicated in the face of ever-changing pandemic conditions and federal, state, and local guidelines.

“We will continue to operate using the guidelines and recommendations provided by federal, state, and local health experts as well as the Colorado College Scientific Advisory Committee,” Crye said.

Thus, enhanced social distancing and widespread COVID-19 testing will be integral features of this fall’s orientation programming. In accordance with this, the NSO staff foresees orientation operating much like it did during the start of the 2021 spring semester.

Unlike the fall of 2020’s NSO, Priddy trips are expected to be held in person. However, the fall 2021 Priddy programming will most likely involve “local day activities and trips but no overnight camping or far away travel at this time,” according to Crye.

This past fall, NSO staff members and participants struggled to build community within their Priddy groups. Amelia Radocha ’23, who worked as an NSO leader during the fall of 2020, said, “When we were doing it, no one could even get together so I hardly even knew what my group members looked like since I could only see them over Zoom.”

In addition, mask-wearing mandates have since made it hard for NSO participants to recognize each other around campus.  

However, with vaccinations rolling out and hope on the horizon, Radocha anticipates a better community-building experience for NSO participants next fall. “For me, the Priddy experience was a good introduction to college and gave me familiar faces I knew on campus, but this year my group didn’t really get to bond as much. I hope that changes next year,” Radocha said.

Despite a finalized NSO schedule still being up in the air and uncertainty on how much the pandemic will improve within the next few months, “[Outdoor Education’s] primary goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy while creating the best orientation experience possible and making sure that every incoming student feels welcomed and begins to build community,” Crye said.

Community is harder to build over a computer screen, but with community-integrated Priddy activities and more in-person programming, Crye hopes to maintain NSO’s enriching nature.

“We know building true community in a virtual and socially distanced setting has a lot of challenges and takes even more intentionality and effort. We have been impressed with NSO and WSO Leaders this year and their ability to adapt and overcome these challenges and know our leaders will continue to step up to that challenge,” Crye said.

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