An unprecedented semester begins to close, campus reflects

ASU students and faculty share how their community dealt with uncertain times

By Mbulelo Maqungo
On May 5, 2020

Photo by Axel Marcenaro: A dramatization of a student attending class.
Students have been going through Blackboard for class since March 23.

 

Everyday, thousands of students have been waking up, signing into Blackboard, and attending class from everywhere except campus. Like many educational institutions, ASU shifted to online instruction for its classes on March 23 to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

This was following their decision to extend Spring Break past the week of March 16 to further assess the evolving situation. 

With the end of the spring 2020 semester approaching, many among the student body and faculty contemplate the community’s response to the national pandemic.

“Everything began when the [World Health Organization] announced that coronavirus was a pandemic,” junior Katrina Sanchez said. “I work at HEB and I thought it was going to be a regular day. Boy, was I in for a huge awakening. So many people came to the store, I was working curbside one day, and we got more than 300 orders.” 

Sanchez and other grocery store employees described how short-staffed the supermarkets were at the beginning of March, a time when there was a drastic increase in the community’s shopping. ASU students can be found working in almost all of the businesses in San Angelo, and many were faced with the challenge of organizing their livelihoods at a moment's notice when classes resumed. 

“Since school started back up, I don’t have any free time,” Sanchez said. “It’s been tough, but luckily it’s been slowing down a little bit at the stores and we’re almost done for the semester.”

Despite the difficulties of these times, the ASU community continued to demonstrate a resilient positivity. 

“I’ve gotten more comfortable in taking online classes through all this,” sophomore Michaela Marquez said. “It definitely took a while to adjust, but my professors made things easier. My parents did call to ask me to come home, but unfortunately my mother is currently battling multiple sclerosis and I wouldn’t want to accidentally cause her harm by breaking her quarantine.” 

During the extended spring break, instructors across departments reorganized their classes to better fit online instruction.

“When I was putting things together for my students, I always asked myself ‘What was the worst-case scenario?’” Dr. Jordan Daniel, kinesiology professor, said. “ My main focus was on maintaining the student learning outcomes through the difficult transition. It was more difficult to come up with alternative assignments that maintained both academic rigor and the student learning outcomes set forth in the syllabus, all while making sure to show my students empathy and compassion. At ASU, our people are our best asset, so we’re going to do our best.”

Some professors, like political science and philosophy department instructor Manny Campos, had an established structure that lent itself to a slightly easier transition.

“I’ve been teaching with a hybrid format for a while, I do almost everything on Blackboard, especially in my two dual credit classes,” Campos said. “Most of my students have adjusted well, they exceeded my expectations. As faculty, I believe it’s up to us to be the positive example in all of this.”

In recent developments, ASU plans to continue online instruction until the fall of 2020. According to a May 1 press release from Interim President Angie Wright, ASU announced they would allow students to move into the residence halls and attend classes face-to-face for courses normally taught in that manner beginning on Aug. 24. 

Some precautions, like testing and screenings of all persons returning to campus and the use of approved masks and face coverings, are detailed as requirements. 

According to Wright, these procedures are subject to change if the conditions of the time warrant.

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