Students Share Feelings about Returning to Campus during Pandemic

Amanda Brost

Manchester University students expressed a myriad of emotions this week concerning the recent return to campus and the multitude of changes made in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

After months of uncertainty, Manchester faculty, staff and students were able to resume classes on Sept. 2 for the start of the fall 2020 semester—with several new safety measures in place. Among these adjustments is the mandate that all individuals must wear a mask or face-covering at all times and remain at least six feet apart from one another while on campus in order to respect social-distancing boundaries.

While some students are going all-out by sporting personalized masks and scented hand-sanitizer, others are feeling the cold of isolation, longing for the day when they can share a table at Sisters’ Café once more.

“A major change I have noticed is the less-bubbly feel of things,” says Makaya Auerbach, a sophomore sociology and criminology student. “On one hand it’s a good thing because people are social distancing, but it almost feels like a ghost town.”

Allison Kosins, a residential student currently studying bio-chemistry and French, shares Auerbach’s frustrations while also doing her best to respect fellow Spartans. She says of the mandatory face masks: “I do think wearing them even when walking by yourself outside is unnecessary but, any other time while outside of the space you live, I understand that it is beneficial to everyone.”

Kosins also shares her experience with the new class structures. “I would prefer to be in class, seeing as I learn better in that environment,” she says, “but I respect how well all of the professors have done with hybrid classes or transitioning entirely online.”

Classes resumed on Sept. 2 but, due to COVID, only a fraction have been unaffected by social-distancing restrictions. Classroom capacities have been severely cut back with some rooms limiting classes to a total of 10 individuals. For this reason, the majority of classes are being taught in a hybrid, hy-flex or entirely online fashion, resulting in fewer traditional classroom lectures—a factor that has affected some students more than others.

“I think hybrid courses tend to be more stressful,” Auerbach says. “Having to find a good pattern between in-class and online, for me at least, is challenging.” She does note, however, that her online course-load for the semester is light, resulting in less change to her educational experience than most.

Not everyone shares this experience, though, as indicated by senior psychology major, Emma Stefanatos. “Classes have changed, of course—I have classes much later in the afternoon than I normally would and those classes are either very spread out or in small groups to allow for social distancing,” she said.

In addition to the masks and distancing, the university has required that every classroom be sanitized and aerated between class sessions, resulting in severe schedule staggering that have shifted some class times as much as nine hours.

In spite of the changes, Spartans seem glad to be home, even if life has become a bit unconventional. Kosins shares an objective view of the situation: “I think this return to campus has been different than in years past, but not necessarily better or worse, as the entire world has changed. It’s hard to say what this year would have been before COVID changed things.”