In-Person Learning Amidst A Global Pandemic…

I’m not really sure how to start this topic because so many people are starting school again and there is a lot of “nervousness” in the air. There have been emails after emails sent from the schools to parents and students that are detailing strategies to not spread COVID – 19 and new safety procedures, check-in procedures, the possibility of everything being shut down if we don’t all just comply to all of the rules.

There were police officers at the entrances to my school, where we are supposed to show our school ID, answer one question about whether we have symptoms or not, and get a thermometer pointed at our forehead to ensure that anyone entering buildings isn’t sick. Then we get a colored wristband to show we are “safe”.

All of this makes sense given our circumstances and I know everyone is doing the best they can with what they have, but it is strange. Masked faces everywhere, more students sitting outside then I’ve ever seen before, half of the benches and chairs inside turned upside down. I didn’t even think to explore my library or bookstore yet, but I was so determined to find my classroom because it was a busy morning.

Entering a classroom for the first time since March was freakishly bizarre. I only have one in-person class this semester and the rest of my schedule is online or through ZOOM, so I was so curious to see how an in-person class would be set up during this pandemic.

There is only one chair to each desk (the desk itself is probably 5 feet long or so). The teacher was nice enough to buy everyone a composition notebook and have notecards and any other material she wanted us to have laid out on each desk. There was hand sanitizer spray, sanitizing wipes, spray, any kind of disinfectant you can imagine.

This teacher is fantastic and even tried using the face shield she had too because it was a bit easier to hear through, plus we could actually see her face. I can tell already that this is a teacher I am going to like because the second thing she discussed on her long list of discussion topics for the day was a bit of a woman’s history with the 19th Amendment. She had my respect from that moment on, I can tell she cares about teaching because she was taking every precaution, then some.

She expressed how hard it was for her students to adjust to online learning in the spring and how she wants to try everything in her power to keep us learning in person. This class requires a lot of in-person activities and projects, (it’s Introduction to Education), and now I see why this was the only one of my classes that stayed as an in-person class this semester.

Nonetheless, it is a jarring scene to witness your instructor present her speech through a plastic face shield that has bulky padding around her head that pushes her hair up unevenly and leaves some hairs poking straight out. Everyone’s voice is muffled with cloth in front of our mouths as we try to introduce ourselves, even though we can’t show so much of our expressions hidden behind the masks.

This is a vastly different experience compared to my first year of college which began completely normally but ended with a stay at home order. Now everyone is trying to find a sense of normalcy among the new CDC guidelines along with our own state guidelines. The staff is trying to make everything as safe as possible; the students seem to be following the necessary steps to stay on campus safely, and all the while faculty are passing out freebie bags all around campus.

My level of commitment is far more limited than that of my instructors because I only have to be on campus for about an hour and a half (including travel time). I am following all of the guidelines and wearing my mask of course but I also have four other fully online classes so if this doesn’t last all semester long, I will be okay.

I feel for the instructors who are working their butts off to be able to educate the students (me) in the best way possible, they are pulling out all of the supplies and are always willing to adjust to help us (the students). If the school isn’t able to continue in-person learning through until the end of the semester, that is who I will feel for, the teachers who are trying everything they can to continue teaching their students valuable lessons.

I’m not sure how this update on my schooling experiences for the 2020 Fall Semester turned into an appreciation post for teachers, but oh well. Thank you, teachers, instructors, professors, whatever you may call yourselves thank you for not letting an entire generation of young U.S citizens miss out on a year of education.

How is everyone else acclimating to the new learning style in 2020? How are people from outside of the U.S. handling this new school year? I would love to hear from you all in the comments below! Thank you for reading my blog, and happy reading to every one of you.

Copyright © 2020 Serra Isabella. All rights reserved.