Our thoughts about going online…
COVID-19: Marking a New Era
Spring break was supposed to be a time of pride for me, as I dedicated it to volunteering in California — cleaning up beaches, removing invasive plants and planting native ones. I was without phone service for a week as I helped rectify the ecosystem in remote areas on Catalina Island.
What was supposed to be a beautiful trip ended in confusion and slight panic when I reconnected with civilization and opened my emails.
All my classes were moved to online platforms until April 6, no, now the rest of the semester. The internship you’ve been enjoying? Discontinued. All your clubs will meet again in the fall, but stay safe and well wishes!
Reading all these messages felt like a fever dream. This reality was both unprecedented and unexpected. I knew the severity of COVID-19 before I left, but not the lengths to which people were willing to go to in order to stay safe. I believe that few people, including myself, could have imagined what their life would be like if spent almost completely indoors. An active busybody, being forced to stay home and do all my work remotely has shed light not only into how I work, but also how society functions.
Jobs that have historically been regarded as replaceable — grocery store employees, janitors, waste management teams — have now become part of the foreground during this pandemic and the backbone supporting communities.
Meanwhile, students and those with other jobs face this transition by switching to online platforms. While this may appear an easy task (and more preferable for many), there are countless numbers of people struggling without access to reliable internet. I, myself, find it hard to maintain my connection now for more than 10 minutes. Limited or no access to internet has forced me to go back home. Internet is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity. This situation of course could be way worse for me, and undoubtedly it is worse for many. We are in a time of great panic and fear and there are many without the resources needed to weather this storm. Many are still without proper information. COVID-19 has highlighted resources that are lacking and the gaps that need to be mended going forward.
With times such as this, however, can come great solidarity and stronger relationships. Everyone’s routines are changing and we are increasingly relying on others now, despite the increased distance between us. Sympathy, empathy even, are in great demand.
I have high hopes that by the end of this pandemic, we will be able to see what is important in our daily lives, who is dear to us and how we can better tackle another dire situation should it arise. Although we may feel like we’re isolated on our own island, together we can get tour this with understanding and compassionate hearts.
I’m not very thrilled about going online during the COVID-19 outbreak. I understand that it is necessary and will do my part to try and keep myself and those around me healthy, but it’s going to be a very difficult process.
I’m not good at online classes. I never have been, and they’ve always caused challenges for me in the past. I prefer a structured learning environment. It helps me immensely to be in a place such as a classroom or library where I can tell myself “this is where you need to study and do your schoolwork. This is not a place to slack off.” When I’m stuck at home, I have too many distractions to feel as though I can truly put all my effort into class.
I hope this will only last for this semester, and that I’ll be able to keep up with it seeing as we’re already about halfway through.
I was definitely very disappointed to learn that we would not be returning to class after spring break, not only because I learn better in a classroom but also because I looked forward to seeing my classmates. I may not be a particularly social person, but I do enjoy listening to what others have to say. This class was especially enjoyable because everyone seemed to have such unique experiences and backgrounds.
My job hasn’t been shut down yet, but the hours of my store have been shortened significantly. I also just recently moved, and it’s been extra challenging trying to get everything I need set up in my new home with all the shutdowns and panic-induced hoarding happening. I haven’t been able to get internet set up at my new home, and the earliest it will be available is April 1.
Lack of internet access has been the biggest challenge, seeing as everything is being done online now. It’s not even possible to sit in a Starbucks or go to the library in order to study anymore. The only thing I can do is drive 40 minutes to my dad’s apartment on the days I don’t have to work.
It’s been a struggle, and very stressful trying to adjust to living like this. I hope this all ends soon and life can go back to normal. In the meantime, however, I’ll just keep on trying to do my best with what I have.
March 15, 2020
SARS-CoV-2, which produces the disease, COVID-19, has hit the entire world by storm. The novel virus started in Wuhan, China in December 2019 and as of March 2020, it has turned the world upside down. Data graphics show that the virus is impacting many countries around the world.
The United States was not shielded from this impact, as President Trump declared a national emergency on Friday, March 13. Many schools, colleges and universities in the United States are closing and moving to online classes. In Arizona, there are roughly 12 cases of COVID-19, with only three in Pima County. While the risk isn’t high, it’s important we take these steps to avoid it from getting worse.
When I heard the news that all classes would be going online, my first reaction was confusion and fear. I began thinking about how it would all work and if it would even work. Online classes are difficult because one doesn’t really get the full experience and doesn’t have the same access to the professor and classmates as you would in an in-person class. However, considering the pandemic we are currently experiencing, it was the right call to make classes online.
Sure, it won’t be the same. For many classes the rubrics will have to change. But, it’s more important to be safe than sorry. Many people may think this is dramatic and we are overreacting, but I would dare say that is better and wiser to do this now than to underreact and be sorry in the future.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t fearful of what to expect for the next few months. I graduate in May and have been working tirelessly to do so. I’m afraid that the online classes will get me behind due to the complexity and confusion they can bring. Luckily, there are several measures that can be taken to make this process easier. I think by keeping a D2L discussion board open, where we can post our questions and the professor and classmates answer can be helpful. By chatting online and having virtual discussions, we can eliminate the confusion and make this easier while still getting our work done.
I hope these next few months aren’t as difficult as I imagine them to be and I hope they don’t cause too much stress. I am scared because I want to finish off strong but I also know we are all in it together and can make it work.
Covid–19 has really put its mark on the new century and is one of a kind in history. This era has opened my eyes to everything we take for granted – being able to attend school, seeing friends freely, attending music festivals, going to club meetings, working to make money and having a healthy community. The novel coronavirus has taken that all away from not just me, but from my friends, family, co- workers and the general population. It has been spreading non-stop and has forced schools to become fully online. Students have been asked to try to stay at home as much as possible. Some people in the community are taking crazy measures to be overly prepared for what comes next and some don’t even care about helping prevent further exposure to the virus. The world is getting hit by a huge pandemic and I just want everything to go back to normal or change soon. In the meantime, the only way to stay connected is through the beloved internet. If we work together and make sure to ask any and all questions, I am sure we can push through the academic obstacles while staying on top of daily news for important updates to today’s world situation. If one day we lose that connection too, I am not sure where we all will be and end up.
March 18, 2020
With the recent coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) all around the world, fear has entered a lot of homes. Fear plays a big role in our everyday lives. Fear stops us from making decisions whether they are good or bad. A place where we can see this is social media. Everyone has access to social media, and can say, share and view anything. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can become toxic at this time. False information can be easily spread, alarming the media and creating more anxiety.
Because of the rising fear the public becomes more tense and stressed out. With everything being shut down or canceled there is more free time. People spend most of their time on social media and now with no other commitments they are spending even more time on it.
I spend most of my time on Facebook and Instagram – reading and scrolling down through my feeds. Most of the posts are unsettling because they are over-dramatized, and people argue on the post about whether they believe it was real or not and they call each other names. My anxiety was above and beyond healthy so I decided to delete the apps.
This recent outbreak has also had effects on the environment. Fewer people are driving and are staying home which reduces the CO2 emissions but there is a lot more trash being produced and sent out to landfills.
Finding essential things such as toilet paper has become a hassle. When I went to the store, I would see people with carts filed with toilet paper, hand sanitizers, 10 loaves of bread and so many things that others need to survive as well. People have been buying as if they were the only beings that need food water or toilet paper. This made me realize how selfish we can be.
Being at home has allowed to spend more time with my only sibling who is three. Since I started college, I haven’t been able to really spend time with him and he would cry whenever I had to leave because of school or work and it broke my heart. Now, I get to spend time with him and see him grow. I also get to spend more time with my two dogs that also need my attention. They have been so happy, and love playing and are so much more full of energy compared to before. This outbreak, while it is scary, it is also shining light on things we have been missing out on.
At the moment, everything is crazy. It all seems out of a history book, but I believe that this is happening. I believe we can get through this.
If social media is raising fear in you personally, I encourage you to take a break from it and find a healthier way of using up all the extra time that is now on our hands – like learning a new language or watching a new TV show, or cooking or finding a new hobby (like scrapbooking). I do truly believe that everything is going to be okay.
March 18, 2020
I hope the transition to online and social distancing are temporary solutions and do not become a permanent part of society because I believe that a sense of community and having a place in it is extremely important.
I fear that we, as a species, are already too reliant on technology and if something were to happen to that technology, we would be up a creek without a paddle. I am nervous that members of the younger generation, who already have trouble forming meaningful relationships with others, will become further distanced and will struggle even more in the future with face to face interactions.
I am worried about the lack of COVID-19 testing available for people, and the misinformation the president, media and online community are conveying. I am worried about the negative economic impact the pandemic has caused and how myself and loved ones will be affected by the likely upcoming recession and stock market crashes.
I am sad for my friends who are unable to attend a graduation ceremony this year who had been excited about it, and although I believe that social distancing right now and cancelling large events is necessary and a smart move, I can’t help but to be disappointed that certain events I had been looking forward to, such as the Festival of Books, have been canceled.
My hope is that by next semester students will be able to return to campus. I also hope this pandemic will expose issues in current systems that will be strengthened as a result. I hope my parents who work at the hospital, and the older people in my life stay healthy throughout this challenging time and that we are all able to find toilet paper in the future.
March 18, 2020
I am astounded every day over how far technology has come in the last few decades. Television, cell phones and the Internet have made it possible to communicate a large amount of information instantly, so much that many of us take it for granted. For example, by just scrolling through my social media feed for a few minutes I was able to find new statistics and information about drug interactions with the novel coronavirus.
Technology has leveled the playing field for many people and allowed for a serious increase in quality of life. This globalization—the extreme interconnectivity that makes air travel and ordering food via an app on your phone business as usual—could also have contributed to our demise.
If humans were not so social and able to travel, if technology and scientific advances did not push us toward facing crowded rooms in conferences and concerts, would COVID-19 have even left the Asian continent? In the past, geography has done its duty containing the spread of devastating pandemics, but now, we have mostly overcome the obstacles of crossing mountain ranges and oceans.
Luckily, our technology may yet redeem itself in the form of online learning. For me, the transition online has not been a big issue. I have a comfortable apartment with a reliable internet connection and have enjoyed the benefits of online learning during previous semesters. In fact, there have been plenty of cases where I chose the online version of a class over an in-person lecture purely for the convenience.
However, online learning is not for everyone. It’s not because of intelligence or work ethic, but rather because many people have never tried an online class. They prefer hands-on, interactive instruction, or they simply do not have the tools. I am lucky enough to have an expensive laptop and the Wi-Fi to use it, but for other students, the transition online is a nightmare.
Aside from technological aspects, other issues have arisen. As a graduate student trying to study science journalism in what is, hopefully, my final semester, I have discovered firsthand that if you can’t find sources to interview, you do not have a story. How do you teach someone how to report an issue if they cannot go out and practice?
Similarly, how do you teach somebody about earth science in an online setting? I am a teaching assistant for a physical geology class, and true to its name, this class has a very physical lab component. Transitioning the skills needed to take measurements in the field, to identify rocks and minerals, to read maps, etc., to an online setting is still a work in progress.
Classes are experiencing an unexpected whirlwind of complications, but I think that in the end it is important to remember that at least we do have the option to go online and that’s better than nothing. Imagine having to cancel entirely a semester of classes halfway through; the logistics of that is even more daunting. Do the students still get credit for classes? What happens to GPAs? Will there be refunds on tuition?
This crisis also gives us a chance to upgrade our infrastructure. We are finding out that the long meeting really could have been an email, and that lecture really could have been made more accessible to a wider audience of students. We are finding new ways to communicate and learn despite the challenges posed to society. We will be better prepared for the future.
Modern technology may have helped spread COVID-19 quickly and efficiently, but it has also made us more prepared than ever to accommodate the actions needed to stay healthy and save lives. Wash your hands and stay home folks.
March 18, 2020
The move towards all online classes has been a very interesting transition for me. This was my fifth year, and final semester so I had been really looking forward to school finally ending. Unfortunately, it looks as if my graduation day is no longer a guarantee, and that saddens me. I have worked so hard these past five years, and really wanted that payoff. I know no one predicted this, but it’s hard not to be bummed at the possibility that I won’t have that day of recognition most graduates get.
On a brighter note, the place I work has shut down as well (while still paying me), so I am home all day long. I definitely prefer in-person classes to online, but I can make the transition. I will do my best to stay on top of things, and stay positive in these rather difficult times. I have access to the internet at all times as we have Wi-Fi here, so all in all, this should be a smooth transition for me. I hope everyone is doing well and staying positive.
Life in the COVID-19 world for a 60-year-old introvert
March 29, 2020
I’ve sequestered myself with my cat Adra, coffee, kitty slippers, veggies, Netflix, Amazon Prime and MSNBC, which provides daily statistics on COVID-19 infection and mortality rates. I put the numbers into my TI-84 and calculate the exponential infection and mortality curves that seem to climb infinitely on the y-axis and, as days go by on the x-axis. This can’t last forever, and at some point, the slope of that line on my calculator has to become zero at the apex, and then negative. The question is when. As of this week those slopes are greater than those of China, Italy and Spain, and that is a very, very bad thing. The curve is not flattening.
I try to explain to people on Facebook that viral diseases spread exponentially. The math professor in me is obligated to make this as clear as possible to prevent misinformation from spreading faster than the virus itself. I have no misconceptions that this is a losing battle, but it would be irresponsible not to try. For several days, Facebook blocked my posts, claiming that they were spam. Days later they sent me an apology. Too late. I wonder if the same thing is happening to others who are engaged in the war against ignorance. The voice of reason, Andrew Cuomo, New York’s tough, smart governor, holds his daily press conferences, with science, data, statistics and experts behind everything he says. Having grown up in New Jersey in a New York City suburb, I know that no one is tougher than we are. There is no help coming from the federal government, and the mortality statistics are sobering and sad. Not enough tests, not enough ventilators.
NYC’s healthcare workers are heroes. So are those in Boston, Detroit, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Soon the virus will hit New Orleans, Biloxi, Tupelo, Jacksonville, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Pensacola and Miami. Phoenix may be next because it is apparently more important to keep gun stores and nail salons open than flattening the curve. It will go through Phoenix and the aged population in its environs like a July monsoon deluge.
I am disgusted by the president’s profound ignorance, egomania, disinformation campaign and contempt for the American people. The continued racist claims that this is a “Chinese virus,” is disgusting and his claim that his press conference TV ratings are higher than those of “The Bachelor” is deplorable. I am thankful for the mute button on my TV remote, which I’ve used daily during the last three years. That won’t change until next January. This virus cares nothing about egomania, Melania’s tweets about the White House tennis court, Easter church services, the Republican National Convention, the Dow or the NASDAQ.
That bright white dot, which is my computer camera, allows me access to the rest of the inside world. My learning-challenged math and science SALT students now communicate with me online using Zoom. In solidarity, we are in our pajamas, uncombed and rumpled, with dogs on our laps and cats on our keyboards. Students need even more support, so I added eight hours to my weekly work schedule. These students are my priority. They are safe, most at home with parents and siblings. My students are sweet, kind, and caring about my welfare as much as I care about theirs. I ask those who are on their own or with roommates if they are getting enough to eat and sufficient sleep, and they assure me they are. Our online sessions are a lovely break from infection and death statistics. We high-five each other virtually when their solutions are correct and wave before our meetings end.
My phone calendar tells me what I need to do and when. One of my tutoring students mentions that she also has trouble remembering what day of the week it is and that she has been doing harmless but absent-minded things. She and her mom dibbed this phenomenon corona brain. I get it. The wax-covered cardboard almond milk and chicken broth containers in my refrigerator are the same size, shape, and color, which explains why my coffee sometimes taste saltier than usual. I expect I’ll make InstantPot almond-flavored soup in the next few weeks.
People my age are supposedly in a higher-risk group, but I have spent my life swimming, biking, and keeping myself healthy, so I’m not that worried. My only contact with the outside world now is with my sister and niece, who live five blocks away They have also sequestered themselves, and as graduate students, we have easily adapted to an all-online world. Our only expeditions are brief grocery shopping trips and nearly daily walks and bike rides around our very quiet neighborhoods. We maintain social distance from others, exchanging smiles with dog walkers. We pet Midge, the fluffy yellow cat, who greets us on Highland, and Arthur, the orange cat on Edison. Some of the potholes on Edison and Highland are still expanding and will soon devour Volkswagens. But the weather is beautiful. We talk about how we could be in Minnesota or Michigan and freezing.
Earlier this week, I walked to my sister’s house to retrieve two containers of soup that she madefor all of us. During my 16-minute round-trip trek along Mountain and Edison I was reminded of normalcy. The Mountain-Grant intersection was still busy. I had to make sure that my bright pink fuzzy jacket and I were visible to those turning onto Grant from Mountain so that I wasn’t flattened in the crosswalk. Workmen, with a pickup truck full of tools, were fixing the exterior of a house on Spring Street. A few helmeted, lycra-covered cyclists flew by me, and a homeless man was searching through giant green trash cans in the alley behind Water Street.
My 90-year-old neighbor, two houses to the east, is outside with her hula hoe, removing the weeds from her front yard. Another neighbor still goes off to Raytheon every weekday morning. A block away, work on the new Salpointe arts building continues, and the Chase Bank at Campbell and Water Street is still open.
Cuomo reminds us to find the silver lining. He says he gets to spend more time with his daughters. Adra thinks having me here all day is awesome since I give her a small treat each time I walk through the kitchen. She has me well-trained and has enough food for a month. When she deems me worthy, I make an acceptable napping spot. Her silver lining. My silver lining is that I’m not sequestered with the violent, abusive and adulterous now ex-husband that I escaped from three years ago. That would have been a hell far worse than COVID-19 had I survived his wrath. We will all get through this together. Let’s all find our silver linings.
March 17, 2020
In the COVID-19 era, I find myself incredibly sluggish. Having to stay home without human interaction makes me feel isolated and less energetic about finishing my work. It feels like the whole world has paused and therefore my work ethic has paused.
Being an online student is not a new experience for me but I always preferred smaller, in-person courses. I love discussion and human interaction. When I talk to people in my classes I always learn something new, something exciting. My classes give me passion for journalism.
Being an introvert has been forced on me. Time to myself used to be a luxury where I enjoyed every minute, but now I’m restricted to seeing my roommates and my boyfriend. I enjoy the solitude in a way, because I can meditate more on my projects. Yet, it’s difficult for me to get on the computer and work ahead.
My mind is full of anxiety about graduation, and the possibility of summer internships and jobs. The only saving grace to me right now are my friends. We text and facetime each other more often, which I find incredibly comforting.
I think this pandemic is making people seek connection even more than before. My friends have been looking to reach out regularly when I once thought I was the sole instigator of conversation. People seem to be looking out for each other. Although there are many negatives to this outbreak, I have been trying to look towards the positives and this includes pollution. Walking to the library in the last week has been a surreal experience. The particles in the air seem lighter. The smell of gasoline nearly dead. My walks to campus are completely new experiences that make me think this virus may give our planet a break it needed. With less carbon emissions from travel and industrial operations, our air may completely change. I’m interested to see what happens to the environment during this crisis. ******************** Blog Post Matthew Roby May 4, 2020 While my tasks are the same—writing papers, analyzing data, meeting colleagues—the products have changed. I spend each day working on digital documents I never see or touch. I no longer sit with my advisor, drawing charts on the whiteboard and marking up paper drafts in his sunlit office. The pandemic has made things flat. We have lost depth in our online world of screens—a version of reality compressed into a two-dimensional plane. But I’m incredibly fortunate. My loved ones are healthy. I can work from home with minor adjustments. I have internet access and devices that connect to it. I have data to write about and blocks of time for thinking, reading and writing. And I see depth elsewhere. From my desk, I watch each day swell outside the window. I see the sun trace its arc across the sky, alternately lighting the east then west-facing sides of jojoba leaves. And I find joy in the feeling of time as it softens, days leaking into days. Because unstructured time is harmful, I schedule my days and am surprised to find depth hiding in routine. Subtle changes mark my morning bike rides up Sentinel Peak. Yellow petals from brittlebush flowers shrivel as palo verdes bloom. Saguaros build buds. I feel the gentle easterly breeze before it warms and veers westerly before noon.
Yesterday, clouds finally tarnished the blue. It’s been 21 days since rain and I swear I feel the soil drying.
March 17, 2019
March 17, 2020 After March 18, all courses at the University of Arizona will be conducted entirely online. While this practice may help to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, many faculty members are unsure how to best make this transition in their classes. It will also need to be determined whether their students will have the technology necessary to participate.
The Knowns Keeping students and faculty out of the classroom will attenuate the spread of disease at UArizona by promoting social distancing. Moving classes online, as opposed to canceling them entirely, ensures education continues while attempting to keep all those involved healthy. This transition will be difficult – it will likely take a few weeks for faculty to find a system in which they can educate their students and in turn, it will take the students time to adapt to learning online.
The Unknowns Transitioning to online instruction places a great burden on the instructor. Many courses are centered around in-class activities, hands-on demonstrations and oral presentations. While lectures, quizzes and exams can be more easily transitioned online, in-person activities seem to have no simple translation. How will chemistry students conduct their laboratory experiments in their homes without equipment? How will performing arts students practice and refine their craft? Further, going completely virtual makes the assumption that every student has access to a computer or similar device, internet connection and in certain cases, a webcam. These luxuries are not needed for in-class courses, but they are essential to participate online. Faculty have been encouraged to reach out to students regarding their specific situations, but how will instructors modify their already altered courses to accommodate these issues? And how long will it take for students and faculty to finally fall into a rhythm, especially with less than two months left in the semester? In addition to the technical challenges associated with these changes, many students will return to campus this week despite the urge to remain at their homes of origin. Students may likely continue to engage in routine social gatherings, potentially at on-campus gathering spots. Though students won’t be able to contract or spread the disease in class because of the new restrictions, one must wonder if closing dorms, common eating areas or places like the Campus Recreation is an essential next step to ensuring we remain case-free at UArizona. Further, many student researchers are wondering whether they should end their experiments, and if so, what this will mean for their undergraduate or master’s theses or doctoral dissertations.
The Path Forward Faculty and students will need to work together to find solutions to the troubles that lie ahead. It is of upmost importance that we ask questions, listen and be patient with one another in the coming days, weeks and potentially months. In doing so, we can come together as an educational community to protect one another while still providing an education.
March 21, 2020
I didn’t want to believe it at first.
I had been planning to visit my friend in China after graduation in May. But then it started. All my social media platforms began to be consumed of news outlets talking about a virus that was affecting the people in China. The virus would make people sick and some would die from it.
So, I reached out to my Chinese friend Kelly and texted her. I said, “Hey I heard things in China are pretty bad right now, how are you?”
I got scared because I thought that she had been infected. However, I forgot about the small time difference between China and Tucson and failed to realize I had texted her at 3 a.m. Kelly told me that her family was fine but that they were advising people to stay indoors and find new ways to entertain themselves so that they wouldn’t infect or be infected by other people.
I never thought that this virus would make its way into the US. All sports games have been canceled. Bars, restaurants and gyms closed. And we are practicing social distancing for the time being. People are now finding new ways to have fun.
Panic. There is a lot of panic.
You walk into any store (Target, Walmart, Costco, etc.,) and they are out of essentials: Milk, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, baby food.
School is now completely online, and I am struggling.
I think part of being a journalist is loving face-to-face interaction and talking to know people. Technology doesn’t let me do that. I hate it here. Many of the professors have decided to use Zoom as a means of communication and while you see people’s faces on there, it’s not the same.
Homework assignments have gotten harder and easier at the same time. Journalism thrives of off sources but getting someone to talk to you now seems impossible. And I personally have become lazy in my studies. Procrastination and senioritis have never been more real.
Professors have been very understanding about the situation at hand. I am grateful to have educators that understand what it means to be human, and part of that is struggling. And although this may sound selfish, a huge milestone in my life was taken away from me.
My graduation has been canceled. Something I have been looking forward to all year is gone. In all the years I have been living (23) I had never experienced anything like this. I should consider myself lucky for living a part of history that I’m sure will be talked about in the future. I am lucky that I have a home, food and a job still. Maybe, this part of life is a way to reflect on ourselves and to appreciate the life we once took for granted. I took it for granted, because I never thought this would happen.
I didn’t want to believe it at first.