Outdoor classrooms

Carleton in a Time of COVID

The Voice continues to document life on campus during the pandemic.

Signs, both literal and figurative, of the COVID-19 pandemic are nearly everywhere on Carleton’s campus. The announcement that campus would reopen for fall term with new safety procedures and measures kicked off a flurry of activity that lasted through the summer and fall, transforming where and how students live and learn.

When students arrived, they were greeted with the sight of excess furniture neatly lining hallways, caution tape draped over classroom seating, and signage dictating mask wearing and limited capacity. While the change was jarring, there was a palpable sense of relief and joy among students, faculty members, and the staff, to be together on campus once again. Several outdoor spaces on campus became adjunct classrooms and dining halls as the Carleton community demonstrated its ingenuity and resilience as it adapted to a changed landscape.


Students stay active Virtual classes Students gather in Sayles-Hill Campus Center for a game of pool Indoor classes limited seats to create physically distanced classrooms Professor Cameron Davidson’s geology students took advantage of the Arb to conduct fieldwork
See a slideshow of recent campus images by staff photographer Hannah Pietrick

How to Wrap Your Head Around COVID

By Lucas Demetriades ’22

We’re living through history. I guess this is always true, technically, but you get what I mean. What’s going down right now is going to end up studied. That means what we put out into the world at the moment might stick in real ways. In short, none of us can really know exactly when we might be creating some sort of future primary source.

I’m thinking about all this again because I’ve been made aware of Carleton’s COVID-19 Archive. I’m here to tell you to check it out. I think it’s a great idea, both as a tool for us to reflect and communicate today, and perhaps as a source of knowledge for tomorrow.

So I recommend that you all think about things in these terms, when you’re able. And if you’re a Carl, see if you have anything to contribute to the archive!


How to do College on Campus

By Greta Hardy-Mittell ’23

When I signed up for classes over the summer, I looked for subjects that piqued my interest and made sense in my sequence.

Spanish 204 was the last course I needed for my language requirement and potentially the beginning of a Spanish minor, so that was a clear choice. I chose a linguistics course called ”Intro to Theory of Syntax.“ I’m super into languages and, as a bonus, it fulfills my formal or statistical reasoning requirement. Last but not least, I picked an English class, “The Gothic Spirit.” As a potential English major, nothing excites me more than a class spent talking about good books!

All three classes were online.

I had already decided to come back to campus because I felt comfortable with Carleton’s COVID protocols and wanted an in-person college experience. I asked myself: Will it be worth it to come back in person even if all my classes are on Zoom? The answer was yes.

Being back on campus reminds me that my favorite part of the educational experience comes outside the classroom. I spend a lot of time studying outside or in my room with my roommate. We share interesting tidbits we’ve learned and make connections between our courses. Fall term everyone in my close friend group was somehow taking a class about monks and nuns, whether in religion or history or English. So there was a lot to talk about!

This kind of in-person learning justifies sitting through Zoom. Plus, online classes have gotten better. Over the summer, professors got extensive training, whether they chose to teach online, in person, or a hybrid of the two. They’ve gotten tips and tricks for any mode of teaching, and extra support where they need it. My linguistics course had a student teaching assistant who helped with technology.

Plus, students are used to Zoom. I noticed that class discussions flowed more naturally this term. In my English class, with only 13 students, I sometimes forgot that the screen was there!

And lots of people did have in-person classes. It was fun walking around campus and spotting some outdoor, distanced classes.


How to Have the Best Birthday in Quarantine

By Avery Reyes Beattie ’24

Kevin Wang is a first-year student who lives in Myers. He likes basketball and meeting new people, and he is one of the smartest and chillest dudes I’ve met on campus. A couple days after we met, he went into quarantine. I decided to do an impromptu interview with him.

Avery Reyes Beattie ’24: How did you get into quarantine?
Kevin Wang ’24: I am in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

How did that process work?
I was sleeping in the Libe, and I got a call from a random number. I picked up and a Carleton contact tracer said that I needed to go into quarantine. I promptly went back to my dorm, packed up, and headed over to Parish House to quarantine.

What did you pack?
I packed some clothes, my thermometer, school supplies, shampoo, but I realized once I got here that I didn’t pack enough shirts. I literally have four shirts. It’s disgusting. But they have laundry here. You need not worry.

What were your expectations of quarantine?
I thought it would be fine, because Carleton is a great school. I am in a single room, but I didn’t expect it to be so hard to focus on school work.

Why is it hard for you to focus?
I do most of my work in the library and here I’m in a small room. I pretty much wake up, roll out of bed, and go to my desk to study, but it doesn’t work for me. I don’t know, maybe it’s a spatial environment thing.

You spent your birthday in quarantine! Tell us about that.
It was amazing and so memorable. I woke up to a delivery of cupcakes and balloons. Then I checked my email and saw that President Steve Poskanzer had written me a personal email wishing me a happy birthday. That blew my mind. I was FaceTiming with friends when a package arrived from the Dean of Students Office. It was a Carleton sweatshirt! At this point, I was jumping up and down. I was talking to friends back home when I got a call from an unknown number. I picked it up and it was Dean Carolyn Livingston. She dropped off a handwritten birthday card and a giant Carleton merch pack. But the fun wasn’t over. At like 10 p.m., there was a delivery for me, and it was a pizza with a happy birthday balloon. My birthday was the best ever spent in quarantine, thanks to Carleton.


Staff photographer Hannah Pietrick spent the term documenting the many adaptations and exploring what life looks like on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Outdoor classroomsWhen possible, classes were held outdoors, some under tents and others, like Professor Larry Cooper’s political science course “Freedom, Excellence, Happiness: Aristotle's Ethics,” on a leafy carpet overlooking Bell Field. Photo by Julian White-Davis ’23Julian White-Davis ’23

  • Students stay activeThe Rec Center implemented a reservations-only policy with limited capacity. Reservations began at the top of the hour and lasted for 45 minutes, allowing for enhanced cleaning before the next session.Hannah Pietrick

  • Virtual classesDespite an October blizzard and an early cold spell, students made good use of campus’s many outdoor spaces and many enjoyed attending virtual classes from the Bald Spot.Hannah Pietrick

  • Students gather in Sayles-Hill Campus Center for a game of poolHannah Pietrick

  • Outdoor rehearsalsCarleton's choir was divided into small groups that practiced each evening in an outdoor tent in the Weitz Center courtyard.Hannah Pietrick

  • Indoor classes limited seats to create physically distanced classroomsHannah Pietrick

  • Dining hallsAfter the initial phase of on-campus testing, dining halls opened for in-person dining with limited seating capacity and physical distancing set ups. Students could also select reusable Green-to-Go boxes and eat outdoors or in their dorms.Hannah Pietrick

  • Faculty adjust to virtual instructionProfessor Marty Baylor used a hybrid approach for her physics labs: only one student (deemed the “apparatus-meister”) was present in the lab, while the rest of the students attended virtually. Baylor and a teaching assistant multitasked to support the physically present student while also fielding questions in virtual breakout rooms.Hannah Pietrick

  • Professor Cameron Davidson’s geology students took advantage of the Arb to conduct fieldworkHannah Pietrick

  • Students gather on the Bald Spot to prep for the first week of classes.Hannah Pietrick

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