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One last party, one last dance, then goodbye: College students decamp in the age of covid-19

WELLESLEY, Mass. — Hundreds of college seniors wearing graduation gowns stood in a line Saturday morning, then bent over and stuck one arm inside a large hoop — some wooden hoops, some plastic hoops conscripted for the purpose. “Ready. Set. Go!” a junior shouted, and each senior began twirling an arm to set their hoop rolling.

Graduating seniors at Wellesley College have performed this hoop-rolling ritual for most of the school’s 145 years — but not on chilly March mornings at the end of midterms.

Like so many other colleges throughout the country, Wellesley is making drastic changes to protect students and their communities from the covid-19 pandemic. Instead of months to wind down their college years and say goodbye to friends, students have just days to finish, pack up their dorm rooms and move out to finish the semester online.

Rather than going quietly — and following officials’ directives to practice social distancing — many are trying to cram two months of partying, beloved school traditions, bad decisions and bittersweet farewells into their last few days together.

Remain six feet away from others? Avoid large gatherings?

Maybe next week.

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Photo credit: Zidane Abubakar


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