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TCU begins student move-in as universities prepare for school amid the pandemic

SMU, UNT and TCU are having move-in weeks instead of days and laying out what happens if school goes all online

FORT WORTH, Texas — The familiar parts of move-in day at Texas Christian University were still there Monday: parents carrying stacks of cardboard boxes, overflowing dumpsters and plenty of family hugs.

But move-in day has been turned into move-in week to help with social distancing and the emptiness and masks were reminders of just how strange the fall semester will be. The University of North Texas and Southern Methodist University are also doing move-in weeks.

“It just doesn’t seem real,” said Brooke Finch, a TCU freshman from Hurst. “I just never thought that this would happen.”

The incoming freshmen have already missed prom and a normal graduation, and their last summer with high school friends was basically canceled.

“We didn’t get any of the fun part of senior year,” Finch said. “The fact that I can just move in is exciting. And because I’m a freshman, I don’t know how usual move-in is, so for me this is normal.”

“Normally move-in day is packed and you walk in, and it’s kind of dead right now,” said sophomore Meagan Solby. “I’m a little bummed but I’m excited that I’m back on campus.”

Solby’s sister, a senior living off-campus, and their mother Tricia Solby, knows how much they may miss.

“Will she get to have home football games? And I’m sure tailgating won’t happen, and social events will be skewed down,” Tricia said.

Students are moving in knowing if classes go all online, they’ll move back out. The same is true for SMU. At UNT, students can cancel housing contracts if classes go all online.

“It is a very different experience,” said sophomore transfer student Haylee Chiariello. “I think this is one that every TCU student is going to remember for a long time.”

Elsewhere in Texas, Baylor is doing mass testing of students before returning and UT-Austin wants students to self-quarantine. TCU is doing neither, but is having students self-screen just like SMU.

Being on campus is the closest to normal most students have felt in months.

“I just don’t know what to expect and neither does anybody else because we’re all going through this at the same time,” Finch said.