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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Academics & Research

Students left with mixed feelings as classes transition online for remainder of semester


MD Anderson Library computer labs will remain open for students to complete their online courses.

Students working at a computer lab before campus moved to online-only classes. Starting Wednesday all campus computer labs will be closed. | Lino Sandil/The Cougar

Mariah Ochoa, before the coronavirus pandemic, had trouble partaking in much of the college experience as a commuter. 

Most of the college experience she was able to get was just from going to campus to attend classes, which she can no longer do as students this week began taking classes entirely online or in an alternative format. Now, she worries this will affect her education.

“I’ve connected with my professors to ensure that I’ll still be learning,” the psychology junior said. “Although (online) class discussions won’t be as effective, I believe I’ll still be engaged.”

Ochoa is one of several students who understand but lament having to take online classes for at least the rest of the semester. They know this isn’t forever but still feel the sting of losing a part of their college experience.

For those starting their freshman year at the University, the coronavirus interrupted not only studies but also student life.

“I understand why it has to be like this, but it’s still a bummer,” said psychology freshman N’Namdi Jelani. “I didn’t realize the last time I saw (my friends) would really be the last time for a long while.”

Jelani said going online was going to make things harder because of how much self-motivation it would take to complete his courses and in-person classes give him more incentive to work.

English senior Jackie Primeau is having to balance her school work with parenting her kids at home. 

“There are so many ways to create connectivity and accountability in online classrooms,” Primeau said regarding online classes under normal circumstances. “With these (new) circumstances, online is tough because both of my kids need a device allotted for learning.” 

Primeau said she usually would look for online classes and go from there, and while she has had some good and some not so great classes, she said it is better than driving to campus every day. 

“As a mother, transitioning to fully online while structuring online time for my kids is going to be challenging,” Primeau said. “It is going to require distraction-free zones and structured times.”

Another effect of the coronavirus is the postponement and cancellation of all University-sponsored events until the end of April. President Renu Khator said in an email to the UH community that this includes conferences, symposia and social gatherings.

For the Student Program Board and their president political science senior Ed Gonzales, social distancing and event cancellations largely affect how the organization is run.

“I 1,000 percent support the University’s decision to move to online courses, but when it did happen, I will say the first thing that did come to mind was my team and our jobs,” Gonzales said. “Our events are nothing without the students, but I understand that student safety always comes first.”

Gonzales felt the effect of the online transition as president and as a UH student. His classes are mostly discussion-based, so he was worried the material assigned will not be as interesting as his professors would have made it, he said.

Gonzales said as a senior, a situation like this happening in his last semester could be a lot to handle, not just for him, but also for professors. 

Starting March 25 all computer labs on campus will be closed as well as MD Anderson Library.

With transitioning online, even though the University has remained open for students to continue staying on campus, many have chosen to go home to complete the online work. Student Housing and Residential Life and Auxiliary Services are offering these students a partial refund.

Commuter students no longer have to attend their classes on-campus, so for many, the parking pass they have purchased will not be used for the rest of the semester. Auxiliary Services will be offering a parking pass refund from March 16 through May 31.

“I’m very glad that the University was able to issue refunds for us,” Ochoa said. “At first, I was actually very shocked and didn’t think they would, but it’s only fair to do so now.”

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