Queen’s students speak on return to in-person learning

‘I’m a little bit weary’ 

Students approaching return-to-campus with mixed attitudes.
Queen’s students are returning to in-person classes on Feb. 28. For many students, online coursework posed challenges in the realm of academics, extracurriculars, and social lives. 
Rob Hughes, ArtSci ‘22, said the move to online school influenced the way he was could engage with school-based extracurriculars. 
“I absolutely hated it. I was very active on campus in first and second year—losing that was really difficult,” Hughes said in an interview with The Journal.
Emahnee Cover, ArtSci ’24, had a similar experience. 
“I would say online school at the beginning […] going into year two was very tough. My grades reflected the fact that I wasn’t learning well,” Cover said in an interview with The Journal.
Cover and Hughes both feel a move to in-person is necessary, though Cover expressed her hesitation.
“I think the approach we should take is one of risk mitigation [...] people don’t realize how little the risk to young people is, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t care about it. I’m not worried about me getting sick,” Hughes said. 
“I get to go to class, but I’m also risking other people’s health—my health. It’s a sacrifice,” Cover said. 
In Cover’s experience, social distancing was treated as a “joke” when students were attending in-person classes in Fall 2021. 
“I’m a little bit weary, as much as we want to say we’re going to be social distancing and wearing masks, it’s not the truth—you can’t social distance with 300 kids in a classroom,” Cover said. 
“Last semester, I was able to do one exam in person, […] I was sitting shoulder to shoulder in an exam room [...] You had people coughing in the front, individuals taking their mask off to drink water in the back.”
Cover added that Queen’s needs to be more proactive when it comes to COVID-19 regulations. 
“I was waiting weeks in advance [in December] to see that email saying, okay, COVID numbers are rising in Kingston, we’re going to be proactive, and make your exams online,” Cover said. 
For Hughes, the need to connect with professors was a concern, especially considering he wants to write a thesis next year. 
“I need to start talking to professors and building those sorts of relationships, that’s impossible in a virtual setting,” Hughes said. 
Cover said students also couldn’t access suitable study spaces during the pandemic. This is something she’s
hopeful will change with the return-to-campus.
“I come from a big family and don’t have a very big house. It was to the point where I started living with my grandma part time,” Cover said.
“I was privileged to be able to do that. Not everybody can say that they have another place to go to study and focus.” 
Cover added that access to academic accommodations has decreased.
“I have a couple of friends who were trying to get accommodations for things, specifically, family members who had passed away due to COVID-19. From what I’ve heard the teachers were not the greatest when it came to accommodating them.” 

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