There’s a new addition to this year’s Orientation Week at the University of Guelph – second-year students.

Running from Sept. 4 to 10, the University’s virtual and in-person events will help first- and second-year students get to know the campus and transition into university life.

More than 300 events are planned throughout the week. Developed with guidance from Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, all events will require masks to be worn both indoors and outdoors.

“We are excited to welcome our students to campus, but we want to ensure we are putting the health and safety of our community first,” said Carrie Chassels, vice-provost (student affairs). “All in-person events planned for Orientation Week have been developed with strict COVID-19 protocols in place so the students can experience campus in the safest way possible.”

Many orientation events will be held online. Selected in-person events will include outdoor movie nights, a trivia event, a traditional cannon painting and a modified pep rally, hosted by Student Housing Services, the Central Student Association and Interhall Council.

“One of our main goals every year is to ensure that there are events for everyone, no matter what their comfort level with social events,” said Jenny Daines, coordinator of orientation programs at Student Experience. “So there are events going on online and events going on in-person. All of the key academic and orientation events will be virtual to ensure that no one misses out on key info.”

Second-year students will be able to join their own events during Orientation Week to learn more about the University. As most of their 2020-21 academic year occurred online,  this year’s events will focus on acquainting these students with the on-campus experience.

“Second-year students had a virtual orientation last year, but we wanted to welcome those who are here this year and give them the opportunity to learn more about the campus,” said Daines.

“We already have some campus tours under way to show second-year students where to find important resources, visit the buildings where they might have classes and give them some insider tips such as the best places to study or where to grab coffee.”

Events for first-year students will be focus on helping students become familiar with clubs and classmates and to prepare for classes.

A majority of the first-year students who take part in Orientation Week live in residence. Students entering residences this fall had to provide proof of vaccination by Aug. 16, and more than 90 per cent will be fully vaccinated by the time they move in, said Chassels.

“We have been regularly communicating to our students the importance of vaccination in protecting each other from the spread of COVID-19,” she said. “I am pleased with how high our vaccination rates are among our students in residence heading into the fall semester.”

Students attending in-person orientation events will need to fill out a COVID-19 self-screening. Students attending indoor events will have to check in using a QR code to allow for contact tracing.

Each housing community has been assigned a designated green space for their in-person events as well as their own wristband colour. This will help control capacity at events and enable students to get to know others in their residences.

The wristbands will also allow students to take part in a modified pep rally that will be partially virtual this year.

“Each group will practise a routine on their designated field, then head to the Gryphon soccer complex to film it,” said Daines. “We will then mash them all together to make what we hope will be a great video, all done safely.”

Students can learn more and register for events by visiting GryphLife. 

Students can find events by downloading the “IAmAGryphon” app using the tab “The Second-Year Experience: O-Week 2021.”