For Daniel Gardner, 19, a junior at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., the dread and dejection set in before classes even started.
Before resuming in-person instruction this fall, the university had laid out a comprehensive 34-page plan emphasizing the “public health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff.”
But when Mr. Gardner returned to campus to help run freshman orientation in late August, he saw students crowded around tables in the dining hall. He saw students stumbling home from off-campus parties. And he saw hundreds of students lounging around inches from each other, many maskless, during an outdoor movie night hosted by the university.