Students need a break during pandemic

Classes have started back up again, and spring break is over. This year, however, it is difficult for students to even tell. Online classes have forced both Cal Poly Pomona students and professors into a completely unprecedented and confusing situation. Within the span of just a few days, the campus community’s daily lives were turned upside down. 

Eduardo Rangel | The Poly Post

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely thrown the spring 2020 semester into an upheaval, with circumstances changing from one day to the next. Perhaps the toughest aspect of the transition to online classes, academically speaking, is that students who were relying on in-person instruction from professors and the benefits of collaboration with their classmates are now left essentially on their own. 

The transition to online teaching is certainly difficult and stressful for professors, but the fact is that their GPA is not dependent on their academic performance during the pandemic — ours is. Now, not only do our professors have to adjust their lesson plans for the semester, they must also adjust their expectations for their students as well. 

While professors may read this and think that it sounds simply like an excuse to be lazy, it cannot be denied that the ongoing circumstances of social isolation, nonessential businesses being shut down and problems that arise in the students’ personal lives can (and certainly will) affect their ability to perform academically in the next month. 

Midterms and finals are hard enough for students to balance during a normal school semester. Between our jobs, family, and other responsibilities, it takes a lot of dedication and balance to fulfill our academic responsibilities. The current pandemic has amplified our everyday life responsibilities as well. Consequently, without the face-to-face professor interaction and classmate collaboration, finals have become much more stressful for students. 

On the surface, it would seem that the “Safe at Home” order would give students more time to study and work on their assignments, but that is simply not true. 

Professors should not assume that just because students are spending more time at home they can handle a workload comparable to a normal semester. 

A number of students work essential jobs, and the stress that results from having to work in this current environment will severely inhibit their ability to focus on their assignments. 

The stress from daily news updates and social isolation is surely taking a physical and mental toll on all of us. The weekend after in-class meetings were suspended, I woke up with a pinched nerve in my neck, undoubtedly caused by the combined stress of the school’s transition and the increasingly grim news updates. Between trying to focus on my assignments, getting ready for fall registration and having my summer courses thrown into question due to the online transition, it all seems like too much. That’s not even counting the non-campus  worries that we are all dealing with as well.

This is why professors need to severely alter their expectations from their students this semester. It’s not because of laziness, and it’s not because we’re trying to take advantage of the situation. The truth of the matter is that none of us have ever lived through something like this before, and we’re all just trying to deal with it as best we can. We’re trying to figure out how to live during global pandemic. We don’t need to worry about finals on top of that. 

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