A College Student’s Perspective in the Middle of a Global Pandemic
Social Media Intern Blog Reflections
Diana Lichtenstein, Franklin & Marshall College
October 27, 2020
The Coronavirus has drastically impacted every sphere of private and public life this year. As a college student, I feel this keenly. Nothing about this school year has been normal. Almost all schools have drastically changed their schedule to accommodate social distancing protocols.
Data from The Chronicle and Davidson College’s College Crisis Initiative (C2i) shows that the majority of schools, 65%, have moved at least half of teaching online. The data shows that 34% of schools are primarily online, 23% are primarily in-person, 21% are doing a hybrid system, 4% are fully in person, and 10% are fully online (1).
The school that I attend, Franklin & Marshall College (F&M), runs on a hybrid system. At the start of the school year, everyone had the option to learn entirely remotely or take some in-person classes. Out of our entire student body of 2206 students, 781 are learning exclusively remotely.
The plans for upper- and lowerclassmen are different. Currently, all freshmen may live on campus in single dorm rooms until Thanksgiving, and all sophomores must live at home (unless they find off-campus housing). In November, the freshmen will go home to learn remotely and the sophomores will take their place on campus in February. Lowerclassmen must abide by strict social distancing rules, leading many of them to feel trapped and isolated.
I feel very lucky to be a junior, an upperclassman. All upperclassmen can live in off-campus housing year-round, as the school has no jurisdiction over apartment leases. I am taking some classes online and some in-person while living in an apartment with my three best friends.
Our apartment is a great little community – we help keep each other calm and stable through this anxiety-ridden time.
Until recently, F&M students were randomly tested for the virus. Now, students are tested every three weeks and wastewater is tested. Students also fill out daily symptom checkers. F&M is taking other precautions, as well. Every student had to sign a pledge at the beginning of the year promising to not miss a testing appointment or gather in large groups. There are serious repercussions like suspension or expulsion for those who break these rules. I am notified of new cases weekly, which is helpful but slightly taxing. There have been 19 positive cases of Covid-19 at F&M since my arrival.
Beyond my fear of contracting the virus, I am fearful that I will receive an inconclusive test result, which a few students on campus have received. This “inconclusive” result is alarming and is cause for concern – students are not instructed how to proceed when they receive this result and cannot get re-tested without paying for a test in another town.
My life, like everyone else’s, revolves around Covid-19. As a college student, we are constantly discussing Covid-19 both socially and in class. And as the Social Media Intern at Afya, I am completely focused on Covid-19 — the posts I create focus on delivering PPE to healthcare workers treating Covid-19 patients.
I never would have imagined that Covid-19 would be such a central theme in my life, but I feel lucky to have the opportunity to live off-campus, have a small community, communicate in person with my professors, and make a difference with Afya during this turbulent time.