Chemeketa students struggle due to COVID-19 pandemic
The swift change COVID-19 ushered in has been difficult to manage for many Chemeketa students, both in school and in their daily lives.
Each person feels the strain differently, but everyone has been affected in some way by this pandemic. Many students are temporarily unemployed due to the closing of all non-essential businesses, and with Chemeketa’s switch to an all-digital platform, students are struggling to cope—the sudden loss of income, lack of a structured schedule, miscommunication and the added stress of the pandemic are playing large roles in their difficult adjustment.
Sadie Sproul, who is finishing her transfer degree this term, said, “I’ve taken a lot less notes, had less homework, but I’ve also been very, very confused about what is expected of me every week,” pertaining to her ongoing struggle with communication between herself and her professors.
Professors and students alike are quickly adopting the use of online learning platforms, including increased use of Chemeketa Blackboard, email and Zoom conferences with varying success. Some professors have opted to use alternative applications for video conferences, such as the Skype app. With one of her professors using Skype to conduct class, Sproul said, “[I]t has definitely been a lot more confusing through that website.”
Scheduling conflicts have also proven to be an obstacle for students as they navigate their virtual classes.
Whitney Anderson, who is finishing her degree at the end of this term, said, “Scheduling is the biggest issue for many reasons. Having an online class really gives you freedom to do homework whenever you want, but with my class, things are time-sensitive so it’s hard to carve time out of my schedule when I’m trying to work two jobs.”
Anderson said that because her class is so group-oriented, meeting through video conferences is vital to the learning process, but it can be difficult to find times where every person in her group is free to log on.
In terms of employment, Anderson’s situation is somewhat unique. While COVID-19 has shut down many businesses, one of her jobs is still up and running. She said they’ve taken extra precautions to protect workers and patrons, and because of this, she said, “I do feel safe being out in the community and going to my job.”
Unfortunately, there are many Chemeketa students who have been negatively affected financially by the statewide stay-at-home order.
Sproul, who was not employed before the pandemic, said, “My mother was laid off from her job because of the Coronavirus… She was the elementary office administrator at Crosshill Christian School.”
Sproul’s story is similar to many nowadays, like Connie Mediger Murphy, who is finishing her last year of a modified plan to earn her associate’s degree in addictions studies. When asked if she was losing income due to the pandemic, she said, “[M]y husband was laid off… He just went back to work at Massage Envy after being involved with a hit-and-run accident with his guide dog last February.” Because of this, she’s worried about her tuition bills, saying, “It’s definitely going to be challenging because he made too much money for me to get any financial aid for school.”
This sense of worry is shared by many Chemeketa students for the various new obstacles the COVID-19 pandemic has set up.
When asked if she felt safe being in the community during this time, Sproul said, “Not really, but it’s not just that I feel like I’m susceptible to catching the virus, I’m also afraid to spread it to other people. I mean, what if I have it but am just asymptomatic? I don’t want to risk getting other people sick whose immune systems may not be able to survive or recover from it.”
However, not every student feels this way. Some students share the idea that much of the fear is an overreaction, like Anderson, who said, “While I do believe people are getting sick and possibly dying I do not think that shutting down the whole world is required.” With every passing day in quarantine, this viewpoint becomes more appealing to those who are struggling.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought drastic changes to Chemeketa and to the world. Students are navigating this new environment as best they can, but it remains to be seen how seriously these changes will impact life in the long term.