How COVID-19 Changed Our Campus

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Kelly Shea

Women’s Basketball calls a time out to strategize against Saint Thomas Aquinas College.

Kelly Shea

On March 11, 2020 our whole world was turned upside down when the World Health Organization declared Coronavirus a pandemic. Businesses closed, we all started to put on masks, and school transitioned to distance learning.

We left campus for Spring Break and on March 17. Then, AIC announced that we would begin distance learning to protect members of our community. Our courses moved to Zoom and we all had to learn to navigate virtual meetings and presentations. Instead of walking to the DC for breakfast and to Amaron Hall for classes, we simply woke up, made breakfast, and joined a video call in our pajamas.

Upon this start of this school year, our college’s administration was tasked with finding the best way for us to return to school safely. When arriving to campus, students were required to provide a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of move-in, and to take a PCR COVID test at the time of move-in.

Students were also required to fill out a symptom screen on a daily basis to track any COVID symptoms. At the beginning of the semester, our campus had a 0.33% positivity rate due to our combined community effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Our administration also came to the decision that remote learning for the spring semester was the best way to protect our community during this pandemic. Despite such a change of scenery, students are taking to Zoom classes well.

Visual and Digital Arts major Margarita Velazco talked about how she has handled the transition. “My Zoom classes are going good so far. Professors are more understanding about distance learning and are being helpful.” She went on to talk about how she is hopeful about returning to campus next year.

Psychology Major Stefano Durante also talked about how remote learning is for him. “Zoom classes are going well. It’s a lot better this year than it was [at] the end of last year when we had to go online. I think the school is doing a good job in making sure the proper precautions are taken on campus to keep everyone safe.”

When asked about how his courses are going from a professor’s standpoint, Biology professor Robert Benard shared a similar message. “My courses have been going extremely well,” Benard said. “The challenges are relevant to issues students have with access to technology, time zone differences, and sometimes just technology glitches in general.  But there are many if not more issues I could point to that are common in person that I am no longer experiencing.”

Professor Benard elaborated on some of the benefits of online learning. “Everyone is getting the same messages,” he said, adding that students are “able to watch recordings of videos of lectures or labs in most of my courses at their own pace and as many times as they wish. I am finding this seems to be a huge advantage to many over taking notes on the spot in a classroom as we would usually do.”

He went on to talk about how he has better communication with students now because of the freedom of scheduling Zoom calls during office hours and using email for communication. “I am finding this far more effective and convenient for both myself and the students compared to just having a set number of hours per week at specific times on specific days.”

Along with classes, athletes have also had to adapt to the COVID-19 guidelines, which impact not only the students but the athletic administration as well. Sports Information Director Seth Dussault shared how his role has changed to protect students.

“We have had to change a lot of our procedures in order to continue to deliver a quality game day experience for our student-athletes in a way that is safe for them and ourselves,” he said. “It has forced us to be creative with the equipment that we have so that we can stay socially distant. It’s extra work, but it’s worth it so that we can do our jobs well and stay healthy.” Dussault has been working with AIC Athletics since 2007. He is also an alum with a BA in History (class of 2011) and an MEd in Special Education (class of 2015).

Sports teams also have specific guidelines that they must adhere to, which include wearing masks when not in game play, socially distancing during practice, and monitoring any symptoms that could relate to COVID-19.

Men’s ice hockey goaltender Stefano Durante said that “Practices are going well and it has been good to get back on the ice with my teammates and do what we love.”

Although it has been stressful for all members of the AIC community, we have persevered through unprecedented times and have still remained successful in our academic careers.

If you need any information about COVID procedures on our campus, please email [email protected].

Thomas Pool and Summer Dutton of AIC Athletics prepare for the women’s basketball home opener. (Kelly Shea)
AIC Ice Hockey head coaches prepare for a home game against Holy Cross. (Kelly Shea)