Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Everyone could not wait to go into spring break to have fun but who would have thought it would turn into a in house pandemic.

The novel coronavirus causes respiratory illness similar to the flu with symptoms of fevers, coughing, and, in severe cases, difficulty of breathing, according to the World Health Organization.

In the United States, there were 207,535 cases of the virus as of the 3 p.m. on April 1 at  along with 4,609 deaths. Chatham County has seen 36 diagnosed cases, but the state of Georgia has more than 4,600 cases. 

The government has called mandatory guidelines including social distancing with no big groups while staying home as much as possible and even Savannah State University has closed switching over to full online courses.

Savannah State University and the other schools in the University System of Georgia has closed campus and moved classes online to finish the semester.

The school has postponed graduation and has announced partial refunds for some students in April. Many students were frustrated, stressed, upset, and confused as classes began on Monday, March 30, especially students who have hands-on classes like labs.

Professor of Environmental Issues at Savannah State University Shawn Rosenquist says moving to the online envrionment can be difficult for some. 

“I feel that the transition and online format can present an additional hurdle to learning for some students," he said. "The distance might cause some to fall out of touch with and not stay engaged in completing the course. However, the digital space is a key part of the professional workspace now and it is a critical skill for all students to develop as I am trying to make special effort to reach out to those who may be seeing it as a hurdle and help them achieve these new skills.”

Rosenquist said there are ups and downs for professors trying to change from on-campus courses to fully online learning.

“On a personal level, I like the synchronous online format and as a part-time instructor, it saves me wasted travel time. I see significant benefits in interacting with students online including improved communications in many ways, improved communications on assignments, and flexibility in participation and completion of learning objectives as the digital space is what a lot of students are accustomed to from high school and is a familiar space for their learning.”

Many students from Savannah State University agree with Rosenquist and other professors; however, some are not as at-ease with the transition. 

Imani Swanson, a junior in mass communications, said the move was hard for her.

“It makes me sad at first that we had to leave school and friends so abruptly like that, but for me, the online classes I will be fine with because I have taken them before and to think about the students' mental health because this could be a tough time for some individuals being that we are forced to stay locked away in our homes. It’s different when we have a choice but now because there isn’t an option, it can be upsetting, and to just take care of yourself first.”

Another student Tytiana Young, a sophomore biology major, is concerned about her hands-on courses.

“I feel that certain online classes like my labs are going to be a little difficult in the beginning and seniors getting their graduation before the school’s December commencement," she said. 

On March 30, Interim President Kimberly Ballard-Washington said in a statement, “Thank you all for the support for our students and each other during this difficult time. I appreciate and applaud your dedication to Savannah State University.” 

Savannah State University announced it would not require ACT or SAT scores for fall admissions. 

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