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Commuters living off campus face different hurdles from those on-campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only do commuters have to time their online and hybrid classes around drive times, but they often have families at home who may be immunocompromised.  

Due to this, online or mixed hybrid classes may initially seem tempting as students don’t have to worry about physically showing up to class, many of the notes and assignments are available to look at by convenience and for asynchronous classes, it is only optional to attend. However, as Junior Creative Writing and Psychology Major Ashlee Pendleton noted, it can be stressful to plan and manage time when you have both online and on-campus classes the same day.

“Sometimes, classes are weird so I’ll have to go to school and have one of my online classes actually on-campus, because I have a face-to-face one right after,” Pendleton said. “So it takes some extra planning I have to do sometimes, too. I have to figure out what time I’m going to be in school and when I’m not, because I also have an on-campus job too, which makes it a little bit more interesting.”

In the midst of the pandemic, it can also be a challenge for commuter students to handle these changes while also trying to maintain health precautions, which is even more important if there are those at home who have compromised immune systems. According to one student, who wished to remain anonymous, having compromised family is a major concern when attending in-person classes.

“It has been a bigger weight than I expected for sure, because I have two compromised people at home,” the student said. “I have someone going through chemo for leukemia right now. I don’t exactly want to go to the library because I don’t really want to bring it home.”

In order to be safe, she often finds herself waiting in her car in-between classes, something many other commuters do as well.

Despite these issues, there are fortunately some resources available to help. For those looking for a nice, uncrowded place to work on assignments or go to Zoom classes, the Commuter Student Lounge on the second floor of the Harre Union has not been near capacity at all according to Bonnie Dahlke Goebbert, assistant dean of students, first-year students and commuter programs. Any commuter student is welcome to go there, as long as typical social distancing measures and other precautions are met.

Additionally, the anonymous student remarked that many professors are open to being flexible and open to help however they can. 

“The professors have been great,” the student said. “I have one class in particular that I’ve been late to every single day because they’re doing construction where I live, and he’s been really understanding of it, so I think that the professors are doing the best with what they got dealt this semester.”

If needed, make sure to get in contact with someone who can help. As the year and the pandemic persist, it is important to remain more focused and dedicated than ever. 

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