A Semester During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Review

This past semester has been unlike any other semester that I have experienced at Purdue. With hybrid classes, COVID testing, and Zoom meetings galore, I and all my fellow Boilermakers, have persisted through a crazy semester that we will definitely remember for years to come. In this blog post, I’m hoping to shed some light on what it was like to be a student at Purdue University during the pandemic.

Let’s start with classes themselves. I was an in-person student living off campus, but my time on campus was severely limited. I was enrolled in five classes: one met in person all the time (at least until October, but I’ll come back to that), one met on Zoom for lectures and labs (except for a few special circumstances; again, I’ll come back to that), and three that were completely online and done independently. My class that met in person met in a classroom that can normally hold about 60 students, but there were only 30 of us enrolled in the class. From what I understand, this was the normal enrollment for the class, but we were moved to a room that allowed us to follow social distancing protocols. This class eventually moved to Zoom lectures because the in-person attendance reached a point where only four people were in class, while the rest were online, so my professor decided it was time to go completely online. As I previously mentioned, one class met on Zoom except for a few special circumstances. These were three labs where we actually got to do the labs instead of watching a demonstration during our lab time, as well as our midterm exam. Despite the fact that the class only had 18 people enrolled in it, only 9 of us could be in lab at once, so our arrival times had to be staggered by group number. I was so excited to get to see my friends from this class in person! My three remaining classes were completely online, and they had some similar features, including weekly lectures, quizzes, and discussion boards. I found my planner to be even more important than during a normal semester, because it was easy to miss a small assignment when each class had such similar weekly activities.

Now let’s talk about clubs. I’ll be honest, I’m not very involved at Purdue. This semester I was an NRES Ambassador and a Protect Purdue Ambassador, and both of these groups used virtual meetings and messaging methods to keep everyone connected. The NRES Ambassadors had bi-weekly-ish meetings on Zoom and we stayed in contact with each other using GroupMe. I missed seeing everyone in person, but our health and safety was the most important thing. The Protect Purdue Ambassadors had monthly meetings with everyone on Microsoft Teams, and I also had bi-weekly Zoom meetings with my Protect Purdue team, where we discussed the projects we wanted to complete this semester. We mostly stayed in touch using GroupMe as well. Other clubs on campus were pretty much the same, with virtual meetings and group chats, but some clubs could get approval for in-person events. For example, our Environmental Science Club had an in-person movie night in early November. Even though things were weird, there were still ways to stay connected at Purdue, and I think that’s really great. Getting to interact with others is super important right now, and I’m grateful that there were still opportunities to do so.

Speaking of Protect Purdue, there were a lot of changes on campus to make sure that everyone on campus stayed safe and healthy. These changes are outlined in the Protect Purdue Plan and Pledge, so I won’t go into the fine details. Some of the main changes were: masks required inside at all times, socially distanced seating in classrooms, wipes in each classroom to sanitize your desk, and COVID surveillance testing. Thanks to the Purdue community, we were able to stay in-person until our predetermined end date during the week of Thanksgiving. This semester was weird, it was new, and it was even hard sometimes, but we did it. I don’t know for sure what the spring semester will bring, but after this semester, I know that I, and my fellow Purdue students, can get through it.

-Katey

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