By Dylan Menard
Pre-enrolment, going to college was sold as a completely different experience than what is occurring on campus today.
High school guidance counsellors and recruitment literature always told us that a postsecondary campus was meant to be a place where you are free to explore, play with new ideas, meet new people, and – most of all – to see the faces of your fellow students and professors.
This is not the experience occurring on campus today.
With that said, here is a short tale of the cognitive expenditure students take on every day during COVID-19 on their way to class …
Let’s begin with waking up. No matter when you need to go to school, you must be ready to go online and connect with an app to declare an oath. It's a promise to, indeed, not be a risk to the campus; to have had no personal contact with the sick; to confirm that you've not left the country for fear of becoming a “patient zero”; and, finally, that health authorities have not recommended your self-isolation.
After this, the app decides if you're allowed to approach the building or not. “Permission Granted”, and you’re good to go. Rejected? ... Be prepared to miss out on your education.
On the way to campus, don’t forget your mask, proof-of-access (the okay from the app), personal ID, and all those school supplies.
Now, setting foot on campus, if you thought for a moment that you would easily be allowed to enter, think again.
Put the mask on, get your ID and proof-of-access ready for display. Now walk through the crowd of potential sickness. Indeed, there is an active disease out there, which means everyone has a hidden face. Far from reassurance, many elements of these new procedures have actually added stressors to campus life, with the constant reminders of the new pandemic lifestyle.
Now, at the designated entrance, prepare to be asked for your verification. With it, the greeter will grant you access to the building (hope you brought everything you needed).
Don’t eat or drink anywhere in the building, except for the designated eating areas. Remember to have proof of vaccination with you, or you’ll be forced to nourish yourself outside. Find your way to class, don’t forget to walk at a distance. And when you sit, make sures it’s two-desk-lengths away from your classmates. Same seat every class, wipe it down, get ready to show your pass. Educator enters, face askew, declaring the names of peers who must leave the class immediately. They've been rejected. Hope they're prepared for an investigation, and haven’t caused an infection.
Now the class begins, all scattered apart. Remember to not eat or drink inside the classroom. If you need to indulge these urges, do it in the designated areas. Lecture begins.
All of the preceding can happen in less than ten minutes on your way to class.
This is just a sample of the daily routine for the student body every morning. Whether we want to admit it or not, this is the “new normal” for students who are learning in-person, and it’s nothing like the college experiences of the past.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dylan Menard is a second-year Liberal Arts student, who is also a researcher working to improve the representation and attitudes of students with disabilities in the education system. He has a passion to help people in any way he can. As he travels the road of higher education, he also seeks to pass down knowledge to the next generation.