By Rocky Garza Jr.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought a new reality to life whether it be financially, academically, mentally, emotionally or physically.
Colleges across the nation have transitioned to remote online learning since the pandemic started but have slowly attempted to return students to the classroom.
At this college, the allied health program includes medical assisting, dental assisting, emergency medical services and kinesiology. All but kinesiology attend in-person classes to fulfill the requirements of practicum classes.
Three students enrolled in these programs described the experience of attending classes on an empty campus.
Priscilla Rios, dental assisting sophomore, said she believed the college handled the Covid-19 situation very well. Rios said this college made the students feel like they were all in this together. Rios went on to commend the resources that the college had for students during the transition to online classes. These resources included a loaner laptop program and free wi-fi offered in parking Lot 16 east of Moody Learning Center.
Rios said she was impressed with how fast one of her professors was able to recreate dental offices at home for remote lectures to ensure students got the proper learning no matter the circumstances. She said she felt comfortable online with her professors while they performed different lessons.
Katy Douget, EMT sophomore, and Isaiah Moreno, medical assisting sophomore, shared similar opinions about how this campus handled COVID-19.
The three students told The Ranger that their daily protocol when on campus three days a week are temperature checks, Covid-19 questionnaires, social distancing and proper PPE, which included scrubs, facemasks, hairnets and shoe booties.
Covid-19 created academic, mental and physical effects for these students.
Moreno said he was affected academically because he never experienced online classes. Moreno was accustomed to hands-on learning and felt he could better soak in the material in person. He also said he felt timid asking questions over Zoom because he did not have privacy with the professor as he would have if it were in person.
Douget said her transition to adjusting to three days in-person, two days online brought her mental stress. She felt overwhelmed with the different scheduling, the adjustment of having her children at home and the gym being closed because she was used to exercising as her mental stress relief.
Rios said she was physically affected by the transition because balancing her school schedule with her children’s schedule was difficult. She said when she had to take proctored exams, she couldn’t have the kids in the room. It was hard for Rios because she knew if her children needed assistance with anything that she couldn’t be there for them because of the potential for losing points.
Ghostly, empty, quiet and strange were words that the students used to describe the atmosphere at this college.
Moreno said it felt like a continuous loop to him because he saw the same people every day and wouldn’t see any new faces on campus, and that it all felt like a dream. He said it reminded of him of life on board ship during his Navy enlistment.
He also said the strange atmosphere didn’t end when he left campus. Moreno climbed on a Via Transit Co. bus after his classes, still dressed in his full PPE attire. He quickly realized he was being judged by his fellow bus riders and it made him feel uneasy.
“I got stares from everyone on the bus. People moved away from me as soon as I sat down, and I got told by an individual that I was spreading the coronavirus on purpose,” Moreno said.
Douget and Rios felt similarly about the atmosphere of the empty campus.
Moreno said the way his professors ensured students fully understood the material was having them ask a lot of questions while in class. If the professor felt there weren’t many questions asked during class, students could prolong class time.
Douget said during her Zoom sessions, her professors kept them engaged by requiring all their cameras on, full EMT uniform and encouraged interaction with questions.
Douget gave an example of why allied health students need in-person classes; they practiced CPR and rescue breathing on a mannequin and had to rush the body from the classroom to the ambulance and to their stand-in emergency room. Douget said she and her classmates had fun acting out scenarios with this exercise.
All three students praised San Antonio College for resources the college offered to them and their classmates. They appreciated the initiatives the college took to ensure students were safe while on campus, and all agreed they wouldn’t change anything that was done for them.