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Returning to campus after Covid-19

By Jessica Coco |

          The Covid-19 pandemic has been the center of life for well over a year now. But the conversation has changed. Before it was what are we going to do to combat it, how are we going to handle the shutdown, and for students, what does this mean for college life? Masks were worn, hand sanitizer was used, and Zoom became the only place we saw our classmates. Now with the vaccine rolling out and life resuming its pre-covid norms, how will we enter back into society as we once knew?

Covid-19 arguably changed the way colleges will run for the foreseeable future. But The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has said they will return to pre-covid operations.

          Nearly 50% of people are anxious to get back to pre-covid life. This can be an even more difficult for college students. For the past year class has been in houses and visits to campus were kept minimal. If you did go to campus, it looked like a ghost town whose few inhabitants’ faces were partially covered. But there are ways to adjust to the new normal, that was the old normal, that changed by the temporary new normal.

          Zoom fatigue was a real thing. Spending endless hours trying to stay focused and learn made one third of students never want to take another zoom class ever again. But transitioning from all online classes to in-person lectures can be just as daunting. A good mix would be professors continuing to record their lectures and making a hybrid model where the class is partially online and partially in-person to ease students back into in-person learning.

          UTC student Alexa Clements says she’s excited to be back on campus, but that some aspects of in-person learning still concern her.

“I’ve gotten so used to the online format and doing things at my own pace and with everything being online my study habits changed. I just don’t know how I’m going to adjust.” Clements said.

The virtual aspect of college could still stick around. With so many being used to the work-from-home lifestyle, students and professors alike, there is a possibility of virtual learning claiming permanent real estate in the higher education system. The same could be said for internships.

UTC senior Ashlynn Rudzinski says even searching for internships at this stage of the pandemic it is hard to find one that is in person.

“Most internships I’ve seen are keeping the virtual system. That makes it kind of easier to transition from pandemic to post pandemic because yes I’m going to school in person, but I’m working online.” Rudzinski said.

The return to normalcy can greatly affect mental health of college students. A study shows that almost 20% of students experienced some kind of psychiatric system after returning to school. Resources are available through universities to help combat the affects Covid-19 has on mental health. The UTC Counseling center has an entire page dedicated to helping students navigate through the pandemic.

Things are looking like they are on the last stretch when it comes to the fight against Covid-19. Vaccination rates are climbing, restrictions are being lifted and Covid-19 related deaths are declining. It will take time to adjust to life as it once was, with normal classes and on campus activities, but it is an exciting time for students. It will be important to be aware of your mental health as you make the adjustment from solitude to a room full of peers.

About Jessica Coco

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