Planning an important, large-scale event like Discover Week, the weeklong event acclimating new students to campus, amidst a constantly evolving pandemic can be a challenge. Just ask Kathy Petras, director of orientation in the Office of First-Year Experience and Family Programs.
“Even after so much uncertainty in 2020, we weren’t really going into 2021 with much more clarity,” she explained.
But the lessons learned in 2020 helped inform what to expect this year, especially in how to incorporate online events.
“Knowing that our evaluations of last fall were positive in terms of our ability to help students feel connected, even online, really helped us feel confident about how we were approaching the orientation process,” Petras said.
When the planning process began earlier this year, the university was eyeing a full reopening for the fall semester. As more information about gatherings and masking became available, the office started to consider what that would mean for Discover Week and Case Western Reserve University’s newest students. Even still, the team—consisting of Petras, Dave Vale, assistant director of first-year experience and family programs, Edwin Mayes, director of first-year experience and family programs, and a group of students—got to work with flexibility in mind.
So what can students and their families expect this week? Discover Week will largely look like it did in 2019 before the pandemic began, with some adjustments. Masking will be needed, but students will be able to interact with one another more than they did in 2020. For students who need to quarantine, online events will be available.
“Being an orientation professional involves an enormous amount of flexibility and adaptability, even in the most normal of circumstances,” Petras said. “So we’ve just been adapting and working with our team to think creatively about our programming.”
Thanks to the Discover Week team’s hard work and planning, the Class of 2025 and new transfer students will experience a week packed full of opportunities to learn about CWRU, Cleveland and themselves.
Check out the Discover Week schedule to see what’s in store.