By Kristina Drendel
A few days ago, I lived in what is arguably the heart of downtown Chicago. Now, the streets are dead. It’s weird to realize how quickly my life has changed in such a short time. A week ago, COVID-19 seemed like a distant threat and I never would have imagined having to move out of the city and be unsure about my plans for the rest of the semester.
Of course, I am very grateful for my health, and I completely understand why a temporary shutdown was necessary. I am actually immunocompromised myself, so I understand the dangers associated with the virus and why the spread needs to be stopped or at least stalled. Even if I wasn’t personally at risk, I would still not want to chance giving the disease to someone who was. Nevertheless, it is still disappointing to have my junior year of college changed so abruptly. I know why my school decided to do what it did and I’m not trying to change that. I only want to provide an inside account of what it is like.
My school is an arts school, so to say the switch to online classes will be difficult does not even begin to describe the situation. On top of that, I’m a musical theatre major. Sure, some of my more lecture-based classes with a focus on the history side can absolutely move to online. Unfortunately though, my major requires hands-on experiences. This semester alone, eight of my sixteen credits are performance-based. Ever tried to take a dance class online? Yes, you can still learn a little, but it’s much more difficult for teachers to correct dangerous techniques that could result in potential injury. Luckily, my professors have scrambled together some projects for us to learn on our own, but it will never compare to the hands-on experience I had been receiving.
I am fortunate that my classes can, in at least some capacity, be taught online, even if this format is not as helpful. My friends pursuing other majors such as Film and Photography are not as lucky. They do not have the studio equipment necessary to complete their projects for the semester. Film students are typically asked to create short films for their finals, essentially impossible due to the necessary social distancing currently in place. Of course, their professor will likely revise the syllabus to accommodate this, but by eliminating these final projects students are losing out on valuable credits and experience.
However, by far the most frustrating part of this whole ordeal in my experience has been the lack of communication between the college itself and its professors and students. On Thursday we were told our classes would be online through April 6 and would begin in an online format on March 16. By Saturday, the college had decided to cancel all classes through April 6th and not formally announce what would occur after this date. My professors were the ones to fill me in on the gaps. Again, I understand why it was necessary for the college to do this, but I wish they had been clearer in their communication to the students.
This whole situation has felt like a fever dream. It truly is crazy how quickly things can change in a matter of hours. Even though I am disappointed in what occurred with my college, I understand that safety must come first in these trying times even if it raises many complications. I hope everyone stays safe and healthy and that things will start to get better here soon.
Edited by Megan Lilly