By Saragine Antoine
The coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed the way education works. Since March colleges and schools have been closed, and the majority of schools are still closed for the fall semester. The pandemic has changed the way education works by moving all classes online, and virtual learning becoming the new norm. The pandemic has changed dramatically for college students because of new move in procedures, new guest procedures, scheduling of classes, and dining options.
In an interview about learning during the coronavirus pandemic, junior public health and history major Lauren Hayes describes her experience with classes, dorming, and what needs to be done to help decrease the spread. When it comes to remote learning while living on campus Hayes describes that she needs to be more flexible when it comes to professors changing their plans because they change to zoom to in-person learning very quickly. She also describes it being frustrating not having a week that is consistent since the start of the semester because it is hard trying to find a place that has a strong Wifi connection to do homework, and having classes go remotely in the temporary classrooms because these classrooms have all sorts of problems that include not being able to hear the professor, A/C not working, or Wifi being very slow. She also states that professors are too busy focusing on the people who are in person, but tend to forget about the people on Zoom. Hayes said “that professors mostly focus on the students that are in person, but forget about the people who are on Zoom and this leads to so many problems, because the people on Zoom have trouble hearing the professor and classmates, and often cannot see the screen properly”.
When it comes to how different learning is now during the pandemic Hayes describes it as “having to become more flexible” than ever before. She states that this semester feels a lot more rushed, and feels that she is pulling more all nighters than before. “The fact that this semester has no breaks makes it even more stressful because Fall break was used for studying for midterms, and catching up on homework, papers, and projects” Hayes said. Since Hayes is a public health major she thinks that remote learning has helped with the spread especially with people who are immunocompromised. She thinks that people need to take the pandemic seriously and use remote learning if your professor offers it. Being a public health major she thinks that remote learning should be used more until the U.S. has better control of the virus. She thinks that schools should take the students, faculty, and teachers’ health into consideration. Hayes said “If schools do not take everybody’s health into consideration who will want to go to that school, it ruins the reputation of the school”. Schools should be testing everybody more frequently to control the spread. She thinks that teachers and professors should go through a technology training program that will enhance their technological skills for dealing with Zoom malfunctions. When it comes to how schools should handle the pandemic Hayes says “that they should be more flexible and forgiving because it is a very stressful time with parents losing jobs, housing, food insecurity, and death in the family”. Schools should be more flexible with attendance, tests should be online with the exception of math and science classes, and projects should be given more frequently to reduce stress with longer due dates.
As for living on campus this semester Hayes says she feels isolated and lonely living in a single. It is difficult to coordinate plans with people, it has increased her anxiety more this semester when it comes to interacting with people because you don’t know who’s been to parties and bars and caught the virus. Hayes also describes that she rarely leaves her room because she does not want to catch the virus, and she is nervous about going off campus because it increases the chances of getting the virus, and will cause more pressure this semester if she gets the virus.
Learning during the pandemic whether that is remote or in person comes with its fare share of challenges. With remote learning Hayes says it is difficult if the professor does not know technology well enough for the class to go smoothly. Whether it is in person or remote she said that she has to figure out what she is doing that day with structure because of the constant changes from switching to remote to in person. “Knowing what format your professor is using that day and trying to get work done in a shorter amount of time has been difficult this semester,” Hayes said. Hayes describes the first few weeks of the semester being horrible because she did not know how classes were going to run. Class discussions were difficult because if the class was in person you would not hear the other person speaking because everyone is six feet apart. “Both in class and zoom discussion are overwhelming because it is extremely difficult to hear; If everyone is on Zoom it makes it easier to hear everyone because of the breakout rooms” Hayes said. Therefore, the coronavirus pandemic has definitely changed the way we learn, and this new way of learning could become the new normal of learning for the future.