Students and faculty at Wayne State College jump back into classes through online remote delivery on March 23

Students+and+faculty+at+Wayne+State+College+jump+back+into+classes+through+online+remote+delivery+on+March+23

Whitney Winter

Alexander Retzlaff, News Editor

As a result of the rapidly evolving situation regarding COVID-19, WSC faculty and staff made the decision to cancel all in-person classes for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester on March 17. According to Jay Collier, the director of college relations, WSC staff made the decision based on recent advisories from the Center for Disease Control and Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, urging people to “drastically limit public gatherings to arrest the spread of COVID-19.”

Yasuko Taoka, the Dean for the School of Arts and Humanities, said that the college is trying to be as understanding and accommodating as possible to students.

“We are not pushing students off campus when WSC is their home,” Taoka said. “On the academic side, we’re endeavoring to help students make the transition online as successfully as possible with clear communication from their instructors.”

For students such as Mason Wright, however, the transition to an online learning environment will take some getting used to.

“It’s definitely a lot different being online,” Wright said. “I feel bad for the seniors because they’re missing out on their last few memories of just being in Wayne with everybody. I think [the staff] are doing a good job of contacting the students, making sure everybody’s on the same page.”

Faculty and staff have also been impacted by the college’s decision. Sharon Carr, an editing and publishing professor and member of WSC Press, had been in charge of planning the poetry and fiction slams, which were cancelled along with a majority of WSC activities. Carr said the situation was tough on everyone.

“Everyone is getting their worlds turned upside down in such a short amount of time, both on and off campus,” Carr said. “We are expected to adapt immediately. We are cancelling events we were working so hard to make happen. People are on edge.”

According to an article from the World Health Organization, symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, tiredness, dry coughing and trouble breathing. The article also said older individuals and those with underlying health problems, like heart disease, are more likely to be affected by the virus. The college’s decision came just a few days after President Trump warned Americans to limit any public gatherings to 10 people or less.

Wright and Carr both had their own advice to share in the hopes of keeping students safe throughout the remainder of the semester.

“Just try to stay home as much as you can,” Wright said. “Make sure your family is safe too, because if they’re not being safe, they can give [the virus] to you. And don’t be selfish. Just because a lot of us are likely to be severely affected doesn’t mean you can’t give to someone else who could be [affected].”

“Obviously, self-quarantine and wash your hands,” Carr said. “But also very important, take care of your mental health, and don’t be afraid to reach out to others however you can if you are struggling. Set boundaries; you can’t do it all. We are all going through this. We got to hold each other up.”

Taoka said she noticed the way in which students and faculty reached out to each other in the midst of the situation.

“I have the sense that we’re taking the opportunity to appreciate each other more substantially than before,” Taoka said. “So I suppose, in terms of safety, one takeaway I’ve garnered so far is the importance of our connections to each other…that within the experience of isolation, we’ve come to realize how important human connection is to our sense of safety and well-being.”

The residence halls and dining center will remain open to students for the remainder of the semester. Taoka also said that student support services like the library, help desk, Holland Academic Center and the counseling center are also still available to students. WSC has also set up a hotline and an online survey for students with questions or concerns. The link to the survey is available online: https://bit.ly/2QmvOA5. Students can also dial the hotline at 402-375-7562, or visit the Wayne State College official website for the latest information regarding COVID-19.

Whitney Winter