SALISBURY, N.C. — Livingstone College is preparing for its first homecoming in two years.
Last year, COVID-19 knocked out not only homecoming but all major activities on campus for the historically Black college.
"It was so sad, I mean we were virtual, and most of us didn't even want to attend that way," said Yashi'la Lewis, a junior at the private college.
"My first homecoming here was 2019, before COVID," she said. "I missed seeing all the people who come back. I'm like 'that's me in the future.'"
This year, Livingstone will hold the seven-day event which starts Sunday, Oct. 9 and ends next Saturday, Oct. 15. There will be a parade, concerts, a step show, and other activities this week leading up to a football game between Livingstone and Elizabeth City. But the school has implemented protocols to keep the student body and visitors safe.
"Well with COVID-19, it's a moving target. Three things that you have to do have is to manage, maneuver, and mitigate and that's what we did," said Dr. Anthony J. Davis, the senior vice president and operating officer of the college, who is also the COVID task force chair.
Davis says the entire student body is fully vaccinated, and everyone who comes on campus is required to wear masks when indoors. He says that everyone should also practice social distancing whenever possible.
"Protect yourself and protect our students," Davis said.
During the week, the school has tweaked and altered the protocols, basing their decision of the science at their disposal. Chiefly, all alumni and visitors will be required to bring either a valid COVID-19 vaccination card or a result from a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before the event they want to attend.
Lewis says she understands why this year's homecoming will be different, but at least there will be one for the Blue Bears.
"We're all pretty excited because hibernation season is over," Lewis said.