Valparaiso University has adopted many new protocols in order to keep students safe. Actions such as the labeling of designated entrance and exit points of buildings, sanitizer stations, and creating policies such as social distancing and mandated mask wearing have been incorporated into life at Valpo in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 on-campus.
One of the major changes the school has made is the implementation of online classes. This has impacted students as some of their classes have been moved from in person to online instruction and in some instances they are still required to come to the classroom even if the class is entirely online.
Students must now stay on top of keeping track of which days they are to attend class online versus in-person.
Sarah Caesar, a senior nursing student, noted that one of the most difficult aspects of conducting class this way is the lack of consistency.
“As a senior I’m in all nursing classes now, I’m not in any other pre-req’s or anything, and each of my nursing classes have been different,” said Caesar.
Originally, the format for Caesar’s IPE-318 and NUR-458classes consisted of three groups. One group of students attending class in a classroom instructed by the professor, another group of the class would be in another classroom in which they would be logged onto a Zoom call with the professor and another group of the class would be logged onto a Zoom call from home.
“In one of them, our professor before classes started, the weekend before, had sent us an email saying that she would like to offer it as an online class if you felt more comfortable taking it that way,” said Caesar.
Caesar, preferring to keep her schedule all in one format if possible, would have opted for the all online approach. However, the professor later informed Caesar’s class that this was actually not possible.
“She tried to offer it that way and then we were told on the first day of class that she wasn’t able to honor our requests because he university told her that they wanted as many people in-person as possible,” said Caesar.
The plan was modified into what is currently in action; half of the class is in person in a classroom (in accordance with the capacity of the room in order to allow social distancing) while the other half of the class calls in from home on a Zoom call.
“They switched it to some people are in-person with the professor and if you were in that remote classroom, now you can just take it at home on Zoom,” said Caesar.
The students are not the only ones being affected by the modified instruction of classes, professors are experiencing some of the same challenges as students as they adjust to this new style of learning.
“The professors are also trying to adapt while we’re trying to adapt and so there’s a lot of things that are constantly changing,” said Caesar.
Caesar added that a new form of technology that has been incorporated into some nursing students’ curriculum is the website Top Hat.
Despite the strange circumstances and difference in how class is normally run, Caesar said she is trying to create as much normalcy as possible for herself.
“I feel like I’m trying to keep as much of a similar rhythm as possible. I’m still trying to listen to the recorded lectures and take notes the same as I would have in person and make the study guides the same as I would. I’m trying to keep everything as much as the same as possible to stay on top of it but obviously with everything being a little bit different sometimes it's hard to keep up with that since we are in a different format,” Caesar said.
Many students have taken their concerns to Student Body President Kaitlyn Steinhiser.
She forwarded the students’ concerns to Interim Provost Gillman and Dean Karen Allen via email. She was informed that in order to make adjustments, more nursing students must go directly to the dean with their requests.
Currently, the timeline of when changes will be made is dependent on the expediency of students submitting their concerns.
Steinhiser tweeted on a thread about this issue and advised, “Nursing students should email their professors if they have an issue with the structure of their class, that way the complaint is documented. And if for some reason nothing is done to fix this, we can bring those documented complaints to Dean Allen and say, ‘here is evidence that students are unhappy with the way that these classes are being held.’”
Steinhiser is always happy to help students when they face challenges such as these. If Valpo students have concerns, questions or any particular topics that they would like the Student Senate to discuss, Steinhiser urges them to contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steinhiser expressed her gratitude of being able to aid with the students’ needs.
“I’m really appreciative the students are coming to me about these issues. Every time someone sends me anything I really try to do whatever I can to help them out so I encourage everybody at Valpo to reach out to me,” Steinhiser said.