COVID-19 precautions change 2020 M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan experience

A student directs family members while moving into McCormack Hall on Wednesday, August 19, 2020.

Debra Murray

M.A.S.T.E.R plan precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19 have impacted how freshmen adjust to campus life.

Sessions were held in classrooms made up of small groups that followed social distancing guidelines, and each student had to wear a mask. M.A.S.T.E.R plan’s organization was very different because of safety measures. Social events were also affected because students had to pre-register for events and some events were held virtually. This year’s program was from Thu, Aug. 19 to Sat, Aug. 21.

“The whole point of MASTER plan is to get to know people but when you’re sitting six feet away and have to social distance it’s hard to get to know people,” said Autumn Cunningham, freshman social work major from Elizabethtown.

The way people connect has changed during the pandemic because of the importance of keeping a distance from others. In a time of wearing a mask in public, staying six feet apart, and minimizing the spread of COVID-19 meeting new people is complicated and potentially harmful to others.

“I feel like it’s harder to make friends because people don’t want to just come up and talk to people with a mask on,” said Laila Catlett, freshman elementary education major from Louisville. “I 100% believe that if everything was normal right now I would have made more friends.”

For incoming freshmen, making friends is one of the most exciting parts of going to college. M.A.S.T.E.R plan educates freshmen about important rules for scheduling classes, residential life and healthy relationships.

“I feel M.A.S.T.E.R plan is not as exciting as it could be, there was supposed to be large group events and a lot of fun with new people to make friends, but with COVID doing all of those things are affected,” Lukas Lewis, freshman undeclared major from Louisville said. “M.A.S.T.E.R plans before this must’ve been a lot of fun with a lot more socializing.”

This year’s program still had multiple social events each evening. With some in-person and some held virtually, these events included movie nights on the South Lawn, morning yoga and writing service letters to nurses working during the pandemic.

“We don’t get to do the typical things that masterplan students usually do,” Catlett said. “For example, in the small groups we are in we are all spread out from each other, so you can’t just sit there and talk to the person next to you unless you want to yell across the room when everyone else is quiet. We aren’t getting to interact with each other, or play games.”

The pandemic has made communicating or meeting new people a different process. Some students realized that they would have to put in effort to make friends.

“I definitely think that having a movie outside or other social events makes it feel better,” Cunningham said. “It definitely is a challenge making new friends, but it also makes you have to be more intentional to walk up to someone and start talking to them.”

Debra Murray can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @debramurrayy