As we are fully aware, COVID-19 has made a massive impact on our livelihoods and day-to-day routines. Everything, except those considered 'essential' businesses, is closed. Social distancing has become the norm. Self-quarantine has become essential to staying healthy, safe, and secure. Students on a global scale have made the necessary shift to an online curriculum, in which the vast majority are struggling with the lack of pivotal hands-on experiences that are required for our degree plans.
In this state of isolation, a group of our writers came together in this discussion panel to share our inputs, thoughts, and opinions in regards to our new lives as we know them. Before we begin the discussion, let's meet the panel!
Where are you spending quarantine? What's the vibe?
Jordyn- Since there was an evacuation of on-campus housing, I went back to my hometown to live with my parents. The vibe has its ups and downs but because my parents are getting a very rude awakening of my different course workloads and how messed up my sleep schedule is, they're (specifically, my mom) trying to be as supportive and understanding as she can be. Admittedly, it's great that whenever I need to rant, it's nice to just walk into the next room instead of having to pick up the phone - my mom has gotten quite an ear-full about all my professors already.
Allie- I was in quarantine with my boyfriend's family in Jones, OK for about two weeks to stay away from my dad, who is vulnerable, and my sister who had actually contracted the virus. Now we are back in Stillwater at his apartment and I still can't go home yet because my sister is not over the symptoms. I miss my family and my cat. School is my main focus right now; I have nothing better to do anyway! I've been feeling pretty anxious about everything, but at least I'm safe. I'm trying to stay positive.
Stormie- Spending it at home with my parents and my cats.
Maddie- I'm spending quarantine in my hometown with my parents and sister. The vibe feels like summer since that's the only time I go home throughout the year. Normally I take summer classes, so doing school through Zoom also doesn't feel different. While this may sound weird, this is exactly the kind of relaxing environment my mental health needed!
Brittany- I'm home with my parents. It's good for the most part but I'm going a little stir crazy. I miss my friends and online classes aren't fun.
Brooke- I am spending quarantine in Stillwater! It doesn't seem so much like quarantine as I work at an essential business, so being able to relax after work and have enough time to get homework and chores done is definitely appreciated!
How do you feel about Oklahoma State's response to COVID-19?
Jordyn- They've been adamant that our collective health is their top priority, which is comforting, and the fact that they're sending us updates all the time to keep us in the loop is really considerate of them. Because all of this happened so abruptly, the adjustment to online courses and workload, though necessary, has been rocky - which is understandable. I just wish that our professors took into consideration that just because we're home, it doesn't mean we have all the time in the world to focus on their individual classes all hours of the day; meaning that each professor seems to think that their class is the only one that exists. The university has made is clear that our physical health is a priority but my mental health has definitely taken a turn for the worst.
Allie- I feel like they have handled everything fairly well so far and I truly feel like our safety is their priority. I was over-the-moon to read the email about implementing pass/fail because this semester has been a real struggle and it is nice to know I have that security. I feel updated with all the emails too. Overall, I'd say they are doing everything they can to keep us informed.
Stormie- They've been proactive, and they've done well to try and keep everyone informed with each step of the process.
Maddie- I feel like the University responded efficiently. While they could have acted faster and responded a week before they initially did (since that's when other universities were responding) overall they have been very considerate towards the student body and staff in this stressful time.
Brittany- I think it's responsible. I'm glad they're keeping us safe and being lenient with things. It still sucks that the semester's over just like that.
Brooke- At first I thought it was crazy, then I realized the entire situation was crazy and the university's response is totally reasonable. This virus spread across the globe in just a few months; if we are going to bring it to an end we need to be contributing to the cause by keeping our distance.
When did you start to know it was serious? When did you start taking action, and how?
Jordyn- My family and I went to Las Vegas for spring break and when The Strip started shutting down the hotels, casinos, and everything iconic, we knew that COVID-19 was significantly worse than we thought. Not once did it shut down for the Swine Flu, Ebola, or any of the others, so to hear that Sin City was shutting down for this, let's just say that we sobered up pretty quickly. Because my mom is immunocompromised, she was our top priority. We immediately packed, left, and excessively distanced ourselves from anyone we came in contact with on the way home. We're a pretty health-conscious family anyway because my mom is a huge germaphobe but now we've kicked things up a notch. The things that my mom already did that I teased her about, like sanitizing and wiping down the handles of a Walmart shopping cart before use, are now common practices of mine. Now, we just stay inside unless we need to buy groceries or other important stuff.
Allie- The moment I knew this was serious was when SMC announced its first confirmed case because it felt closer to home. And then it felt really close to home when my sister came back from Colorado and found out two of her friends had tested positive and then she started showing symptoms. I had already been staying at home, but I became cautious of what I brought into the house. Wiping down groceries, take-out, and washing my hands excessively. I was being mindful of how contagious this actually was. My dad is immunocompromised so I'm taking this very seriously. I didn't go near him for weeks until I knew I had been isolated long enough.
Stormie- When the jobs I worked on campus shut down and even my bosses weren't able to go into work. I stayed in my dorm during spring break until my parents picked me up the next Tuesday.
Maddie- I started to understand how serious it was the week before spring break. That's also when I took action. I canceled my plans, came home, and have been social distancing and self-isolating since. While I did miss out on my last spring break, that doesn't really matter considering I would have put so many lives at risk if I had gone. I wish others would have acted with the same intent.
Brittany- I think during spring break when everything started to shut down. When movie theaters shut down I was like, "Oh crap." I stayed inside, canceled my LA trip. We stopped seeing friends. And only went out for groceries.
Brooke- We were somewhere around two months into the pandemic that I realized it was serious. It started to cause concern after seeing so many customers wearing gloves and masks and complaining about standing too close or some sanitization issue. Since I'm considered an essential employee, there's only so much I can do; however, I wash my hands as often as I can between customers. Outside of work, though, I stay at my apartment and get schoolwork done.
What do you miss most about being on campus?
Jordyn- I miss the library, 100 percent. When I couldn't focus on anything at home, I knew I needed to change my environment. I'd go to one of the quiet floors or get a study room so I could have a space for myself to focus. I can change scenery at home too but moving from my bedroom to the living room can only do so much.
Allie- My job at the OSU Museum of Art - I miss seeing my co-workers everyday! I also miss being able to utilize the resources in the library.
Stormie- I miss the library and the spaces I would go to on campus to get out.
Maddie- I miss seeing my friends! That's cliche but it's hard not seeing them every day.
Brittany- My friends and the things I was involved in.
Brooke- I miss the in-person instruction and socializing with the other students.
What's something you didn't realize you'd miss?
Jordyn- I wasn't expecting to actually miss going to class. If I didn't go to a class before this, at least it was my choice. But now that classes have been shifted solely to Canvas and Zoom, I miss that physical interaction with everyone - even the people I don't particularly enjoy being around. Go figure, right?
Allie- I miss going to the basketball games!
Stormie- Working. Beyond the money, I found I missed my routine and the family I had in those places I used to be in all the time.
Maddie- Morrill Hall! I didn't realize I'd miss my walks to that building or the classrooms so much.
Brittany- Legit, going to class - a specific few classes but still.
Brooke- I didn't realize that I would miss the lights being on around the city at night. With everything either closing early or not opening at all it almost feels like a ghost town.
What's the first thing you're doing when you get back?
Jordyn- My friends and I have already made a collective executive decision that we're going to Eskimo Joe's for burgers and chili fries, and celebrate our return with some bar-hopping. Staying in on the first day/night back isn't going to be an option.
Allie- For sure going to have a coffee date with my friends and catch up.
Stormie- I'll probably be bugging my research mentor about what we're doing next. I'm pretty excited to get back into Life Science East and be in all the spaces and talk to people again.
Maddie- I'm going to go see my boyfriend! Again, cliche, I know! I know many people are struggling with being away from their significant other and this experience has really made me appreciate long-distance relationships.
Brittany- I'm going to a Mexican food place with my friends.
Brooke- I think that I will make plans with my friends that I haven't seen since self-quarantine took place.
How are you helping those around you?
Jordyn- I'm staying home and exercising extreme social distancing when I have to get out of the house. I've become super cautious with my hands when I have to go shopping, they almost never leave my pockets when I'm running errands. I'm also trying to check in with everyone that I can. I know I'm having a tough time being separated from people and struggling with my mental health a bit, so I know that people I care about probably are too. Reach out to one another. Even though it's "every man for himself" right now in regard to our health, we need to support each other and make sure everyone is okay.
Allie- I'm trying to support as many local businesses in Stillwater as I can!
Stormie- I've been inside since I got home, which gets boring at times but I don't want to risk having been exposed and spreading it, or going out and getting it. So I've been home and just doing homework and helping a bit around the house.
Maddie- I'm social distancing. This will help so much and everyone should! This doesn't mean social distance, but still see your friends or your significant other, etc. This means stay inside, only see those who are in your house, follow the six-feet apart rule!! Seriously, it is so ignorant to believe that you are above this pandemic & that these rules don't apply to you. You aren't flattening the curve by only halfway participating.
Brittany- Staying inside when I'm supposed to stay inside - and WASHING MY HANDS!!
Brooke- I'm helping those around me by staying home (when I'm not at work) and maintaining basic, healthy hygiene and sanitization methods!
Check out the other creators in this panel: