Students balance online classes and COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a lot of confusion in the Fall 2020 semester. Many classes were moved online, while those remaining in person were under strict guidelines to keep groups small and people socially distanced.

Students had to balance their studies with a seemingly ever-growing threat of contracting a world-wide virus. With that in mind and the spring semester coming ever closer, what is going to change going into it?

Looking at next semester, class styles seem to be rather similar with many only being available online. Beau Bond, a psychology major, said that he had no real preference as to if his classes were online or not. However, Bond said that he is intentionally avoiding taking classes he deems would be better in person after having a theater class online in the Fall semester that he believed would have been far more enjoyable and educational in an in-person setting.

“I wouldn’t say COVID has caused me to struggle with school, but online has made me a lot less motivated to work and has affected my time management a lot,” Bond said.

Bond said that he missed several deadlines on assignments due to simply forgetting them, and even considered waiting until COVID-19 got under control to continue college. However, online classes have caused him to begin trying to manage time in a more efficient way.

Jennifer Merrick, a professor in the nursing program, said that the spring semester is going to be operating similarly to the fall semester. For the class that she teaches, Nursing 484, in the fall they were split into two groups that only met in person on alternating weeks, while one group was in person the other would be present through a Zoom live lecture.

Starting in the spring, her class will be reduced to half its base size to make it easier to teach. As well as wearing masks and social distancing guidelines will be followed, entrance and exit into the classroom will be facilitated to keep social distancing, and tests will be taken online with a live proctor.

In addition to her Nursing 484 class, Merrick is also in charge of the clinical program, where students are tasked to work alongside doctors and nurses in an actual hospital setting. These will continue to operate under strict guidelines, requiring a much larger amount of prepping and time, a temperature check to enter the building, and a questionnaire to fill out on entry to ensure there is no risk of exposure.

Merrick later said that her students have seen a massive rise in mental health problems, most stemming from a sense of isolation due to social guidelines, or frustration from trying to keep up with classwork without a stable internet.

Merrick believes that the pandemic could cause either a massive decrease in nursing students due to fear of exposure, or perhaps a surge of new students joining the program to try and help with it. She believes that the ramifications of COVID-19 on student registration and the college as a whole are currently up in the air, and likely will not be realized for another year or two.

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