Written by Madison Scott and Morgan Gianferante.
University President David Burks announced on Jan. 26 via a campus-wide email that in-person chapel would resume beginning Monday, Feb. 8.
“Chapel provides an avenue for all of us to mature in our faith and have exposure to challenging ideas and discussions,” Burks said in his email. “While we have maintained a daily virtual chapel, we have longed for the time we would be able to again meet face to face.”
Students will attend in-person chapel in eight smaller sections, four days a week beginning Feb. 8. Sections will be divided by day, time and location: Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m or 9:30 a.m, in the Benson Auditorium or Rhodes-Reaves Fieldhouse. Chapel will not meet in person on Fridays. Instead, students will watch virtually.
“It’s going to be different just because we’re all split up into different places, but I think that even just getting to have a taste of that this semester is really exciting,” freshman Emma Claire Myhan said.
Instead of having assigned seats for each student, a technology called Spotter will record attendance using Bluetooth on each student’s smartphone. Each student has six absences for the semester as attendance is required.
“I’m also a little nervous just because we haven’t heard much about [COVID-19] here yet, and I’m nervous about gathering,” sophomore Emma Grace Steil said. “But I’m more excited than I am apprehensive.”
In order to provide space between chapel sections and proper social distancing, each chapel session will last for 18 minutes. Dr. Andrew Baker, assistant professor of Bible and a member of the chapel committee, said that, just like classroom spaces, seats will be spaced out at least 6 feet apart, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state guidelines. The seats will also be retaped to designate appropriately spacing, and chapel ushers and door holders will be present to safely direct people.
On Monday, Feb. 1, seniors with 90 credit hours or more at the beginning of the semester will select their chapel section on Pipeline.Tuesday, Feb. 2, juniors with 60 to 89 credit hours at the start of the semester will have the chance to choose among the eight chapel sections. Sophomores with 27 to 59 credit hours at the start of the semester will choose on Wednesday, Feb. 3, and freshmen with 26 credit hours or less at the beginning of the semester will select their chapel section on Thursday, Feb. 4.
“We’re going to be talking about spiritual disciplines all semester,” Baker said. “If as a community we’re practicing those together, then I think we’ll see ourselves being more patient as we’re trying something that’s different.”