BY EMMA HUERTA
With the craziness following the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, everyone across the world has had to take precautions to prevent its spread. While people have begun social distancing, colleges and universities have canceled classes and/or semesters, even ordering students to gather their belongings and leave campus.
One institution to do this was Columbia University in New York City, New York. The university urged all of its students to vacate their on-campus dorms by March 17, after deciding to move all of its classes online. CCHS alumnus Bailey Kraus, who is a student at Columbia, recently moved back to his home in Cooper City amid this announcement.
“Initially, we were told that classes would be moved online, but everyone had the option to remain in the dorms if they chose to do so,” Kraus said. “However, due to a positive case of COVID-19 on our campus, students were asked to leave within three days to minimize the number of residents in the dorms.”
Colleges, including Columbia, have also made accommodations for students as they move back home and continue their education online. Columbia specifically has given its students various forms of support—such as providing up to $500 to cover moving costs, including travel expenses and storage—and has started using Zoom, an online video communications platform.
“All students are being taught through online learning. We are using Microsoft Teams. It is challenging to attend classes in a different time zone as I have to go to bed early and wake up early. My earliest class is at 4 a.m.”
“While there is an adjustment period for professors and students, I think that all of my classes have been going well so far,” Kraus said. “Since many of our classes are collaborative, professors are working on new ways for the students to work together. This includes using tools provided by Zoom, such as dividing the class into small groups for discussions.”
Another CCHS alumnus, David Lee, has also moved back home from college. However, Lee had been studying across the Atlantic Ocean at the American University of Paris (AUP) in Paris, France. But due to President Donald Trump’s European travel ban and French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron’s nationwide school closures, as well as AUP’s updates, he decided to leave the city.
“We were actually encouraged to stay in Paris,” Lee said. “I ultimately realized that the situation was only going to worsen and made the decision to, unfortunately, leave France.”
AUP went further than many schools in the U.S. when helping their students, individually consulting them about their plans regarding the coronavirus and accommodating them as needed. The school also prepared to transition to online instruction.
“For others who decided to stay for a couple more days, the school scheduled a phone call to determine what needs the student had and provided resources accordingly,” Lee said. “Personally, they helped me close my bank, phone and gym account. They also made sure that I understood the challenges I’ll face with online learning in a different time zone.”
“Due to the coronavirus, my plans are on hold … [With] the school closing and all the students heading back home, there’s no point in going if there’s nothing to see.”
On March 16 and 17, AUP halted classes to allow professors to organize their coursework and transition to online instruction. After this preparation, on March 18, AUP began online classes for the rest of the spring semester. For students in Paris and at home alike, the transition has been a bit difficult, regardless of all of AUP’s aid.
“Currently there are only about 400 students who decided to stay in Paris. They are being assigned a staff member at AUP and are being checked on daily through some form of communication,” Lee said. “All students are being taught through online learning. We are using Microsoft Teams. It is challenging to attend classes in a different time zone as I have to go to bed early and wake up early. My earliest class is at 4 a.m.”
Not only is COVID-19 impacting college students’ education, but it’s hindering the college plans of CCHS seniors. Senior Poria Hong, who was recently accepted to Florida State University (FSU), planned to visit the campus but her trip had to be indefinitely postponed.
“After being accepted into FSU, I wanted to check out the campus since I haven’t done any college tours. Spring break was the perfect time since I don’t have to miss school and overall [it was] more convenient for me,” Hong said. “Due to the coronavirus, my plans are on hold … [With] the school closing and all the students heading back home, there’s no point in going if there’s nothing to see.”
Photo courtesy of Bailey Kraus