A year after COVID-19’s initial takeoff in the United States, Troy University’s social distancing guidelines are now a norm for students and faculty alike.
The abrupt dismissal of classes last spring is still in students thoughts.
“I didn’t know that when I left for spring break, that that’d be the last time I saw some of my friends while we were both in school,” said Macey Weeks, a senior English major from Mobile, Alabama. “The last thing we said to each other was, ‘See you next week.’”
“As a senior, I feel like I didn’t get to have the full experience in my classes,” said Lana Benefield, a senior exercise science major from Lineville, Alabama. “In both last semester and this semester, a lot of stuff has been shut down.
“There’s been less opportunities [for students].”
Organizations with high-contact activities, such as Troy’s performing arts programs and the Sound of the South’s auxiliaries, have been forced to adapt to creative social distancing guidelines.
“There are fewer opportunities right now, so we’re having to be really strategic about making sure that all students get those opportunities to perform or to be, you know, with one another,” Victoria Averett, department chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, said.
The pandemic has led to heightened frustrations among both faculty and students as teachers work to move engaging content online and split students into pod classes in an effort to keep people safe and distanced.
“You get more stressed more easily,” Benefield said. “There’s more things to do, it seems like, than when we had classes all in person.
“I’ve noticed that [Microsoft] Teams has a lot of technical issues, and it’s harder to really talk with my professors through it. It just feels more forced talking to them online.”
“It [COVID-19] has been a big deal, and it’s affected some people a lot more than others,” said Kristen Bird, a senior anthropology and criminal justice double major from Mexico Beach, Florida. “I know that color guard was actually pretty heavily impacted.”
Bird is also one of the two color guard captains for Troy’s Sound of the South and shared, while not performing in the usual way was disappointing, the group worked around the obstacles the pandemic created.
“It was a challenge for everyone involved, but the team did such a good job adapting, and they put on such a good performance even though it wasn’t something that we were used to whatsoever,” Bird said.
Although people have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, many have found a silver lining.
“Since we can’t go to as many places, COVID has allowed me to connect more with the people around me,” Benefield said.
“This has made everyone in the [Alpha Omicron Pi sorority] house definitely get closer,” Weeks said. “We’ve created bonds and memories that I’ll have for the rest of my life.”
“I feel like we appreciate more of our time together, just because we were apart for so long,” said Anna Lynn Grant, a senior marketing major from Dothan, Alabama.
“Our students have been champs,” Averett said. “They’ve been so good about trusting – trusting all of us at the university to do it for them.”
As of this paper’s deadline, the university reports 880 student COVID cases across all campuses.