Pandemic learning: how students are adjusting to classes during COVID-19

Students head back their residence halls after lunch on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. The majority of campus food options are still open while implementing social distancing protocols in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Gabrielle Bunton

With the first week of classes finished, students have had the chance to experience hybrid classes and the new safety measures on campus.

Bowling Green native and graduate student Francisco Serrano has been able to see both sides as a student and as a Contact Tracer and Disease Investigator at Barren River District Health Department.

“Hybrid classes have been interesting,” Serrano said. “I think all the professors and schools have been do- ing really good jobs in terms of maintaining the protocols. Overall, I have felt pretty safe with classes I attend in person.”

Serrano was comforted by seeing professors do their part by wiping down desks regularly, checking student seating and making sure everyone is wearing a mask.

“I love seeing people wearing their mask,” Serrano said. “It’s our first line of defense that we have against this virus. Every now and then you will see people who aren’t wearing masks. It does make me a little worried in terms of that part.”

Regardless of how people feel about masks, Serrano says people should think about others’ health and safety as well.

“The mask is not only there for your protection, but it is there for the protection of others,” said Serrano.

With the new safety measures, Serrano thinks it’s important for there to be leaders on campus and leaders at every level to take the virus seriously.

“With the election coming up, we have to make sure that we are electing officials that take these things seriously and have experience going through it,” Serrano said.

Being Latino has also given Serrano a different perspective on the virus with how hard the Latino community has been hit by it.

“It really is playing with people’s lives at the end of the day,” Serrano said. “With my being Latino and seeing how my community has been hit hard, I have a lot of feelings about how it is being handled and the way it’s been handled by so many leaders.”

Junior finance and marketing major Ben Robins has mixed feelings about his hybrid classes due to the many com- plications that come with technology.

“It’s easy to access, which is great, but if your Wi-Fi is acting funny or something else comes up technically there is not a lot you can do unless you get it resolved by [Information Technology Services],” Robins said. “They do take a while but they tend to resolve stuff. That’s the only downside for me.”

Another challenge in hybrid classes is the amount of students who fall sick with COVID-19. Robins said he has witnessed students in his class fall ill to the virus.

“These hybrid classes do pose a little bit of an issue because I’ve had three people in my class before have COVID and class is still going on in-person,” said Robins.

With the safety measures on campus, students are required to do a lot of new things to keep themselves and everyone else safe, but WKU can also face difficulties with having students abide by them.

“I’ve seen people not wearing masks,” Robins said. “Regardless of your political beliefs or even if you think they suck, it really does pose an issue, and the mask provided by WKU doesn’t really work.”

Altogether, Robins said he doesn’t think moving students back on campus was the smartest decision, but he hopes everything will go smoothly.

“This can all end any second,” Robins said. “Some part of me is okay with that, but the other part is not because I don’t know where all this will crash down on.”

Junior environmental sustainability and geographics major Brittany Pekara said her first week of hybrid classes have been good for her due to her having a hand in choosing which class time to meet.

“I think it’s because I got to choose which classes I was taking unlike last semester because we were just thrown into it,” Pekara said. “Most of my classes are hybrid and I only have class on Monday. Last week, I didn’t end up going to any because that is how we sectioned them off and we will meet once every two weeks.”

With Pekara being able to create her own schedule, she hopes to learn something from hybrid and online classes with how to balance her time.

“It’s still an adjustment, but I think with increasing time management skills it will be really good.” Pekara said. “I think I will benefit a lot from learning how to do school online and balancing my social life and work life without being forced to go to class on a schedule.”

The new class regulations came paired with the new safety measures across campus, such as wearing masks, six-foot distance stickers and more. Pekara feels secure with the new rules and sees no problem with abiding by them.

“In the beginning of COVID, I kind of struggled with the idea of wearing
a mask,” Pekara said. “It was a huge adjustment, but it’s become more common now and I think I’m totally fine with it. It makes me more comfortable to see everyone else wearing their masks too. I’m glad it’s enforced.”

Overall, Pekara keeps a practical attitude for this semester and acknowledges that the school year can go down different paths.

“I’ve got a pretty positive outlook for this semester,” Pekara said. “I know it goes both ways. We could either be hit with a miracle and hopefully stay here. It could also go completely south and we could all be sent home.”

Gabrielle Bunton can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @gabriellebunton.