Students come to grips with campus life during a pandemic Friday, Sep 18 2020 

By Gabriel Howard —

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the nation, schools have had to come up with new and creative ways to provide a safe and engaging learning environment. And while the inclusion of online courses has been a welcome addition, how have things been for those who still have classes in-person?

Dealing with the pandemic has been a challenge for the university. Moving most classes online has helped ease the stress of delivering classes to the students.

However, roughly 30% of the students enrolled are still having to go to in-person classes during the fall semester.

Diana Romero, a freshman, shared that her experience on campus this fall is much different than when she visited last year.

“When I toured here this time last year the campus seemed vibrant and full of life. I was excited to experience all of the things you would expect in your freshman year,” Romero said. “Things feel different now that classes have finally started. All of the things I wanted to do are simply impossible in the current climate. The campus itself feels quiet and is completely different from what I expected.”

Romero also felt that her experience with in-person classes is much different from what she expected. She commends professors for making it as welcoming as possible, but still feels a little weird going to in-person classes amidst a global pandemic.

The required COVID-19 testing she and her classmates have participated in has eased nerves slightly.

Her experience is something a lot of students can relate to. Most have opted for an entirely online schedule to minimize the risk that coming to campus and potentially being exposed to COVID-19 presents.

In a normal fall semester, campus is usually packed, however, it now feels like it is finals week 24/7. Food lines are small and the classrooms are even smaller. And with the pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, this will unfortunately be our new norm for the foreseeable future.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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Online advice: Don’t let COVID-19 get you behind Wednesday, Aug 26 2020 

By Maria Dinh —

As a response to COVID-19, the university has offered hybrid, distance and remote courses for the fall 2020 semester. Students are either attending in-person classes a couple times a week, meeting synchronously through Blackboard/Zoom or completing distance ed courses online. Professors have also given students the option to complete their hybrid course 100% online only for those who don’t want to attend class half in-person, half online.

Logging into a remote class in a full household can feel really chaotic. Working in the comfort of home can be unmotivating and distracting. Here is some advice for an online working environment:

Have a Designated Work Area.

Not everyone is blessed with a private home office to do all of their studying. Work on a desk or a kitchen table, hopefully near a good Wi-Fi connection.

It is recommended that students wear headphones with a microphone during a conference so they can focus on the lecture and participate. On Blackboard, there can be an echo during online lecture when the microphone is on. Make sure the microphone setting is muted so others can listen to the professor.

Junior CIS major Tatiana Aliaga-Mendoza had to transition from in-person to remote learning in the Spring of 2020. Aliaga-Mendoza said she keeps the essentials on her desk when she’s in class.

“I always have some water with me, my planner to write down assignments, a notebook since it’s harder to take notes on my laptop, and maybe a snack if I have back to back lectures,” she said.

Plan a Work Schedule.

Maintaining a work schedule is essential to staying on top of things.

Talk with roommates/family members on a work schedule to have quiet times for synchronous lectures on Blackboard or Zoom. Working from home can be distracting so it is important to stick to a focused routine.

Set reminders.

It’s important to maintain schoolwork and remember deadlines for assignments.

Distance ed courses don’t meet a couple times a week like in-person classes do. Distance ed courses are more lenient, but have important dates for assignments and exams. Writing down assignments in a planner or Google Calendar are a great way to stay organized. Download the Blackboard app and Microsoft Outlook app with notifications on for when professors make an announcement.

Review recorded lectures.

On Blackboard, there is a menu bar where recorded lectures are located for students to go back and watch what they might have missed. Some professors use Panopto for recorded lectures.

This program has shortcuts where students can click on the title of the slide and the video jumps on the time bar where the professor talks about the slide. Panopto even has a section for taking notes synchronized to the time of the recording.

 

So is it worth it to attend classes if the option is given?

“I think there is a lot of value to students learning in the classroom setting,” Brian Barnes, a philosophy professor at U of L said. “As a student, I found classroom interactions with faculty and other students to be invaluable for my learning. On the other hand, I don’t believe I should use my platform as a professor to coerce students into showing up when they feel unsafe during a public health emergency. The class interactions are recorded, and I believe that many students are capable of making good decisions about structuring their learning with online content. Again, much is lost in this format, but I do think it’s important that students have an option to learn in an environment where they feel safe.”

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L releases draft of plan for students’ return to campus in the fall Thursday, Jun 4 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

University of Louisville Provost Beth Boehm sent out an email to the U of L community on June 1 addressing concerns about the fall semester and releasing a draft of the plan for a safe return to campus.

“I want to acknowledge that many of you are anxious and want answers to all of your questions at once,” Boehm said in the email. “I understand your anxiety about ‘reopening’ campus, even as I ask your patience as we methodically work toward something resembling a final plan.”

Boehm went on to clarify that U of L never completely closed during the COVID-19 outbreak. She pointed out that many students remained in on-campus housing, Ekstrom library stayed open and many dining options on-campus were still in operation.

She went on to explain that U of L is working to maintain a balance between giving students the best education possible while also keeping the U of L community safe.

Boehm then linked to the draft of the plan for the return to campus this fall. The plan includes guidelines for personal protective equipment, social distancing, changes to food service areas, testing, required flu shot, class guidelines and changes to the academic calendar.

Masks will be required in all public areas on campus, including classrooms. Professors will be allowed to take off their masks when lecturing as long as they maintain an eight-foot distance from the rest of the class. Students will be given a washable cloth mask at the beginning of the semester, but they are encouraged to bring their own backup masks.

Social distancing will also be expected in common areas on campus. Floor markings and table spacing will be used in high-density places to encourage distance.

In addition to socially distancing in dining areas, hand sanitizer use will be required for entrance to those areas. Barriers will also be installed between food service employees and customers.

U of L will also make COVID-19 testing available to all faculty, staff and students. The testing will be focused on those showing symptoms and those believed to have been in contact with someone who has tested positive. Students are encouraged to get tested before returning to campus.

In an effort to reduce flu-like symptoms on campus, students, faculty and staff will be required to get a flu shot at the beginning of the fall semester. U of L will provide free flu shots, but those who wish to get their flu shot elsewhere can do so as long as they provide U of L with evidence of getting vaccinated.

The guidelines also indicate that all classes, except for online-only classes, will be taught as hybrid classes. This means that 25%-75% of the class will be taught in person, with the remaining 25%-75% being taught online. Instructors will also be asked to post required assignments and lectures online to increase accessibility for those unable to attend class.

The academic calendar has also been adjusted to accommodate concerns related to COVID-19. The semester will begin as planned on Aug. 17, but face-to-face instruction will end at the beginning of Thanksgiving Break, Nov. 25. The remaining two days of instruction and finals will take place online.

Other calendar concerns include fall break, which will continue as planned Oct. 5-6, and the Kentucky Derby, which is expected to take place on Sept. 5. Sept. 3-4 will be online instruction days in order to address traffic concerns related to Derby festivities.

Members of the U of L community are encouraged to read the full draft plan and share their thought through a feedback form by June 5. Boehm will also be holding an online forum for students, faculty and staff on June 5 at 2 p.m.

File Graphic//The Louisville Cardinal

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Survey: U of L students concerned about potential return to campus next fall Thursday, May 28 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

Earlier this month, University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi announced the university plans to return to in-person classes for the fall semester. But one Student Government Association survey is finding that more than half of the 214 responses received in the first two days of its launch are concerned with the potential return.

SGA posted a three question survey to its Twitter on May 16, allowing students to voice their concerns about a potential return. SGA’s Top 4 also posted the survey to their personal social media pages. The questions included in the survey were:

  1. What are your concerns about the fall semester?
  2. What resources do you need to be successful in the fall?
  3. Anything else you want us to know?

A response to any one of the questions would be considered a completed survey.

“Many of the responses expressed concerns about having to make an emergency, mid-semester transition in the fall (similar to the one we did in the spring),” SGA told the Cardinal. “A lot of the feedback expressed concerns about safety, social distancing on campus and safe access to University services.”

The student government cautioned that the survey was conducted over social media and is not a representative sample of the student body.

In an email sent May 18, Academic Vice President Ben Barberie provided College of Business professors with “a few notable early trends from the first question.”

54.39% of the responses included some concern about the safety of a return to campus. 19.30% showed concern about plans relating to online classes. 14.91% included some concern about money or expenses related to an in-person fall semester.

“University faculty, staff, administrators and students have been hard at work behind the scenes deliberating many different potential scenarios that could arise this fall,” SGA said. “Throughout the process, SGA has been careful to make sure student concerns are heard and that any approach to this fall is rooted in equity for all students.”

SGA’s survey is ongoing and will remain open throughout the coming weeks.

“We appreciate [student’s] feedback regarding finances, safety, academics, and extracurricular activities. SGA will continue to share these hopes and concerns with the University administration as we advocate for innovative solutions to a wide variety of student concerns,” SGA said.

Graphic by Alexis Simon // The Louisville Cardinal

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President Bendapudi gives summer update to U of L community Monday, May 25 2020 

By Madelin Shelton–

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi sent out an email on May 21 regarding U of L’s decisions through June and July amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

These months are expected to be a transitional period for the pivot to the fall semester. This transition will include various policies to help protect the health and safety of faculty, staff and students. 

Among them, Bendapudi announced that the university has “extended the remote-work policy through June 30 for those employees who can continue performing their duties off campus.” 

In addition, June 1 will mark the first day that certain units may begin to bring some employees back to campus who provide critical on-campus needs. June 1 will also be the first day that small meetings and events of up to 10 people can begin. 

The other policies of the transition include a confirmation that pay reductions and furloughs scheduled between now and June 30 will continue as planned and “some research labs and clinical research programs will begin to open following strict health and safety guidelines.”

Bendapudi said that the university would continue to evaluate the evolving situation and update the U of L community on further developments before July 1. 

She also pointed to the work Provost Beth Boehm is doing to craft a smooth transition for the fall semester, including the formation of three separate committees comprised of faculty, staff and student representatives. 

These committees include a coordinating committee in charge of developing plans for “campus operations, student services and other key functions,” a safe return to campus committee with the responsibility of planning necessary COVID-19 testing for the U of L community, and an academic scenario committee “to address delivery of academic programming.”

In response to much uncertainty regarding the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bendapudi said the university and its leadership “are working diligently to ensure that the University of Louisville will be prepared for any eventuality.”

File Graphic// The Louisville Cardinal

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