Lourdes University adjusts to Covid-19

by Steven Bieber

COVID-19 continues to affect the daily lives of almost everyone. One of the biggest groups of people that have been affected are college students. Universities across the country have been forced to quickly adapt to the new normal that the country has faced since March.
On Oct. 27, in Russel Ebeid Hall at Lourdes University, three students discussed their first full semester under the restrictions of COVID-19. The students related how they were or were not affected by remote learning and changes to in-class learning.
Ann Blevins, a junior and a psychology major with a minor in educational studies who lives on campus, said she has two online classes and two in-person classes, and has been largely unaffected by the transition to online classes.
According to a research study published by the National Center for Biotechnology (NCBI) 54 percent (106/195) of students surveyed said they have seen an increase in workload this semester, however, for Blevins, this was not the case. “Honestly, I feel like I have less. I recently just switched my major too, so I feel like I should have a lot of homework, but I really don’t,” she stated.
While some students may say school work is more difficult, Blevins added that her classes have been much easier this semester. “I’m okay with online learning. In-person is better for me but I’m also okay with learning online. That’s never really bothered me.”
Blevins explained some of the new rules for living on campus. “We are only allowed to have seven people in our rooms at a time. It’s affected us hanging out with our friends so we don’t really get to see all the friends that we used to hang out with all the time. It’s harder to plan the time to see this person or see that person when you can only have so many at once.”
Everyone has something that they look forward to when Covid is no longer a threat and Blevins shared what she is looking forward to, “When we can go back to our daily lives, I hate wearing masks, I hate having to be far away from people. I don’t like not being able to see my friends as much as I used too, along with my family as well. I don’t really see my family as much.”
Hayleigh Grega, a Sophomore psychology major who lives at home, struggles with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) which has hindered her ability to learn from home. “I am really someone who needs that face-to-face in-person learning to really understand the material. At home there’s a lot more distractions than when I’m at my desk. It’s just a whole lot easier when I have that in-person lecturing straight from the teacher,” she said.
Grega has most of her classes online this semester. She feels the shift to online classes has affected her grades. “I went down from a 3.9 to a 3.6 GPA. It really affected my grades tremendously because it was just such a drastic change for me, being so easily distracted and not having that in-person communication. I even ended up switching my major form exercise science because trying to learn science online was incredibly difficult.”
A big part of Grega’s success in the past was study groups, which are on hold because of COVID restrictions. She also noted that it is harder to ask questions in an online class than in-person.
With a change in classes, there is also a change in taking tests. Grega explained how exams are different whey they are done remotely. “The majority are online now, and some of them are prompted online, meaning that you are watched to make sure that you are not cheating. Others are open book, but they [professors] expect a lot more out of you with the open book form. They expect you to be descriptive and they test you a lot more about the abstract ideas. They expect a lot more out of you with the tests.”

With in-person classes, students could receive grades for attendance and participation, but with online classes, professors can only give grades based on assignments.
Henrique Gehrke, a senior business management major from Brazil and volleyball player for Lourdes, shared his experience with the new normal and discussed what students lose with online classes.
“Human contact, being able to ask more questions and maybe having the feeling of the class. I feel like the technology is good, but it doesn’t translate emotions. I think that’s important even for a class.”
Gehrke says he did see an increase in work in his online classes, but he explained the benefit in taking a class remotely.
“It’s good because you can do classwork any time of the week so it fits better in your schedule. The problem is if you have a difficult class it’s hard to understand everything that you need to.”
Because he lives in Brazil, Gehrke was not able to go home all summer. He says his grades are lower this semester than they normally are. The uncertainty that he and many other students faced over the summer and continue to face have simply made him feel tired but he did not face a higher level of stress.
He added, “I feel really tired, but it’s not that bad. That’s why I think my grades are not so good because I have some easy classes this semester and I’m just not putting in as much effort as I wanted to. Regarding the online classes I don’t think my stress level raised, it’s just the situation.”
Gherke praises the safety measures the university has taken during the pandemic including quarantining students who test positive, mask requirements and keeping students aware.
When COVID-19 is gone, Gherke looks forward to “Going home, socializing with people and being a better person than I was before.”
The conversations with the three students were supervised by Helen Sheets, the Director of Institutional Advancement and Briana Peters, Marketing and Communication Specialist.

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