Students persevere through virtual classes

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Courtesy: Lizzie Thibodeau

SNU campus dorms remain empty while classes are offered online-only to start the semester.

Kristin Helser, Editor

Sierra Nevada University faculty and students are facing new challenges this semester as the surge of COVID-19 complications continue. With the Coronavirus showing no signs of stopping, the SNU administration is working to balance student safety of the student body, while working to bring students back on campus at the halfway point of the semester.

“We made the decision to split the semester knowing Tahoe had potential to become a ‘hot spot’ since there are a lot of tourists during the summer,” said Will Hoida, administrative director of student life. The SNU administration decided to split the Fall 2020 semester into two 6-week sessions; the first six weeks, students have virtual classes, then transition to classes on campus in late October. “Our biggest concern is the safety of the students, so our best option was to push things back to October when tourism slows.”

This situation is the best for keeping students healthy and distant, the college says, but virtual classes created many challenges for students and professors.

“It’s been more difficult to manage my time,” Mallorie Miller, SNU sophomore, said. “There’s more time in class and more homework than I would typically be used to.”

“I think this has helped me to prioritize more,” Madalyn Johnson, SNU senior, said. “It’s easier when you’re on campus because you can go to the library after class, but when you’re at your house all day, you have to make time for your studies.”

While taking classes online is not ideal, returning students look forward to seeing their friends again and meeting the new incoming students.

“I feel like when you are in class you get to know a lot of people and what goes on in their lives,” Johnson said. “Right now, people are hidden behind their screens and it’ll be good to get to know those people when the campus is open.”

Despite the hardships that students are facing, having the dorms closed has created a convenient time for some new updates to the school.

“With the decision to shut down came a challenging but exciting opportunity to upgrade the dorms,” said Lizzie Thibodeau, director of housing and student affairs. “In the past, we haven’t had enough time to do any work on the rooms, but since they’ve been empty for months, this was the perfect time to refresh the dorms.”

Typically, during the summer and winter breaks, the dorms are open to house the master’s program students. Due to the nationwide quarantine and COVID precautions, Thibodeau and her fellow staff members made long overdue improvements to the dorm rooms. These included filling the holes in the walls, painting the walls, thoroughly cleaning all furniture, using teak oil to rejuvenate the desks and wardrobes, fixing closet doors, and adding curtain rods to the rooms.

“It was a lot of work between staying on top of emails and paperwork and then turning around and doing hours of manual labor, but I’m very happy with the result,” Thibodeau said.

The SNU faculty and staff are all looking forward to the students returning to campus. However, with the privilege of coming back on campus comes a heavy responsibility to stay safe and healthy.

“In the event of a possible COVID case in the dorms, we have a plan on how to respond to it,” Thibodeau said. “The third floor of Campbell will be used as a quarantine floor to isolate students, and the Sodexo staff has been trained for hospital-grade cleaning.”

In order to keep everyone safe, the staff asks that students remain cautious when returning to school, keeping a distance when possible, and washing their hands frequently.

“This semester didn’t turn out as planned, but I’m glad we get to kick things off in October,” Hoida said. “I’m looking forward to seeing some familiar faces and meeting some new ones very soon. Go Eagles!”