Students adjust to remote learning during COVID-19 pandemic

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Ramapo has closed its doors for the remainder of the spring semester due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Since the announcement that all instruction would remain remote on March 19, several more cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed from members of the Ramapo community.

The college has so far announced five positive cases on campus, but will no longer be reporting each case as it is confirmed. Rather, all updates will be made on the college’s website for COVID-19 updates, which includes an archive of all official communications.

Remote instruction became a decision out of the college’s hands when Governor Phil Murphy issued Executive Order 104 on March 16. The order stated that all schools of higher education and K-12 would use remote instruction until the order is lifted.

While students began their online classes on Monday, many are concerned about how long the order might last. Online instruction, some are seeing, presents unique struggles that all students are learning to deal with.

“Remote instruction, at no fault of the college, basically cuts out all the essential pieces of my college experience,” said Becca Foster, a senior at Ramapo. “I am unable to communicate the same way with my classmates, my professor, advisor, etc. The quality of work is different, as remote instruction really makes school feel optional right now when it isn’t.”

The impact social distancing has had on many is a hit for their mental health. Isolation and lack of daily routine has made putting education first a struggle.

Focusing on mental health is as important as physical health for many right now. The CDC dedicated a page of their website to talking about the effects of these stressful times, along with helpful ways to reduce anxiety.

“To be honest, I feel like the struggles of online classes are that you are kind of in a mood where you can relax,” said Patrick Monahan, a freshman at Ramapo. “Procrastination is going to be the elephant in the room for most students at home.”

It is easy for students to feel disconnected when out of their usual routine, and making the adjustment is going to take time, but Ramapo has been making an effort to keep students feeling involved by working on digital projects reflecting those events that would usually contribute to campus life. 

Looking beyond digital classrooms and advisement sessions, the college is continuing to roll out remote involvement on the daily digest, such as a zoom meditation session from the Krame center.

Students today are facing an unprecedented struggle, one that is at times exacerbated by technology, rather than cured.

“Some of the struggles I’m facing are with team projects,” said Alex Celentano, a junior at Ramapo. “Everyone has different schedules and obligations, it’s hard for everyone to always meet at designated times.”

Like any time in college, education can often fall second to familial and work obligations for students. Especially now, many Americans are facing financial struggles due to work closures, and some students may find themselves in positions still deemed “essential” during the outbreak.

“Right now, more than ever, we need to learn to value the hard work of the employees that aren’t considered ‘essential’ until something like this happens,” Foster said. “Grocery store clerks, stockroom employees, waste management… These jobs are frequently looked down on but now we are in a situation where we wouldn’t survive without the hard work of these people. When all this is said and done, the employees that we couldn’t survive without deserve more credit.”

Perhaps a positive result of this situation is the lessons that could be learned. Whether it is learning the importance of caring for others, valuing work that is often overlooked, or even getting the chance to learn in a new way.

“As a journalism major, my classes are usually focused on specific topics in the news and writing articles on campus life. However, because of the campus closure and limited news stories, my school assignments have been a lot more personalized,” said Danielle DeAngelis, a junior at Ramapo. 

“In my mobile journalism class, I have to film a one-minute documentary this week from home about any topic I choose,” DeAngelis said. “I believe this is a positive element of this troubling time because students are given a lot more leniency, which relieves stress and benefits a creative mind.”