Allyson Sheneman can't wait to go back to school this fall.

“I think my first year almost feels like a trial run of what college could be," she said during a residence assistant training program at SUNY New Paltz.

As a sophomore, she’ll help students acclimate to the in-person college experience as an RA, and after her freshman year, she's excited to take on this new role.

“It’s important to me that students on campus feel really connected to each other and that they feel like they belong here," Sheneman said.

What You Need To Know

  • SUNY New Paltz's fall semester will transition back to in-person classes after a year of mostly distanced learning

  • Following full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, SUNY mandated vaccines for students

  • New Paltz will also have indoor masking because of the growing trend in delta variant cases in Ulster County

SUNY New Paltz is ready to welcome students like Sheneman back after a year of mostly online, distanced learning. But with rising cases of the COVID-19 delta variant, indoor areas of campus will remain masked up, regardless of vaccination status. And with full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, SUNY has mandated that all students get their shots.

“I’m really excited to have people, to have the energy back on campus with our students," said Stephanie Blaisdell, New Paltz's vice president of student affairs. "There’s no substitution for in-person interactions.”

Much of the in-person experiences at New Paltz will return. Peregrine Dining Hall will be open for sit-down meals, after only offering take-away options last year. Blaisdell says 90% of classes will feature an in-person element after last year was mostly online. And fall athletes will once again be able to take the field and compete.

“A lot more in-person engagement and we’re really excited about having our fall sports back," Blaisdell said. "They lost their seasons last year, so we have those teams competing this year.”

Elsewhere in the Hudson Valley, Marist and Vassar already mandated the vaccine for all students, faculty and staff, with exceptions for religious or health reasons. Vassar is making mask wearing optional if you are vaccinated.

Back at New Paltz, Sheneman is hoping to have a more conventional college experience with these safety measures in place.

“Looking forward to a lot of the classes being able to be in-person again; a lot of clubs, programs," Sheneman said. "It’s just really interesting to be able to plan programs expecting to be able to meet up with people instead of just virtually.”