COVID-19 has uprooted the lives of many people around the world, with students being one of the groups most affected by the upheaval. With universities adjusting to an online platform, the upcoming semester will also mark the first time that York students will receive a predominantly remote schooling experience.
Olivia Smail, a third-year kinesiology student, shares her experience as an out of province student. Beyond social interactions however, online classes posed their own difficulties. Smail took summer courses online and learned that the two-hour time difference was challenging.
“You constantly have to be thinking about time as if you are in Toronto, but you sometimes forget. There were times I would see a 11:59 p.m. deadline and think I still had time, but in reality, it was 9:59 p.m. for me. That is only two hours, I can only imagine what the international students must be feeling,” says Smail.
Smail’s living arrangements were another aspect of her life affected by the pandemic. Smail states she was locked into a lease near campus despite leaving Toronto. “It’s a hard pill to swallow, but I decided to come back to our deserted campus for maybe a more focused environment and ‘get my money’s worth’,” Smail states.
The University has a full selection of academic programming for the Fall 2020 term, with more than 95 per cent of the 3,500 courses being taught online.
Third-year kinesiology student Amin Hatamnejad, who was studying for his Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) throughout the summer, found that COVID-19 actually gave him a much-needed break.
“At the beginning, I found it very hard to stay focused, but with the help of an online calendar I was able to stay on task for my academic and extracurricular activities,” says Hatamnejad.
“I also dedicated a good chunk of time to enjoying time with my loved ones. From someone who was at school, even during the weekends, it feels nice to spend more time with my family.”
Keeping individuals safe during the pandemic has been a global priority and maintaining the student experience as best as possible will be an added priority for the university.
York Deputy Spokesperson Yanni Dagonas states: “The gradual reopening of our campuses will continue to be guided by public health guidelines and the government. Within those guidelines, the goal is to make the best use of our facilities to meet urgent needs of students, faculty and staff in ways that put the health and safety of our community first.”
The University has a full selection of academic programming for the Fall 2020 term, with more than 95 per cent of the 3,500 courses being taught online. Careful planning has facilitated our ability to offer experiential in-person learning in a select number of courses, including labs, studios and clinical placements,” continues Dagonas.
Maintaining the full student experience also extends to providing support and services online, according to Dagonas. This includes online self-service options, live person chats, peer mentors connections, virtual check-ins, and virtual coffee chats—all intending to support students and their academic success, wellbeing, and community building and opportunities.
Muskan Sehgal, a third-year kinesiology student and frosh leader for Stong College, shares her experience of connecting with nervous ‘froshies’ over Zoom to help with the first-year experience.
“The upcoming Frosh Week planning has been quite interesting to say the least. With COVID-19 now being a part of our new year. The things we have planned for them plus the hype energy us leaders have makes me hopeful that Frosh this year will be just as great as previous years,” says Sehgal
“Incoming students are not in the greatest position, and online schooling makes that worse. I want to be there for them in these times so that they don’t feel like they’re alone. This year, we have a bunch of online activities planned. Currently, we’re connecting with students through a new app, and a website that allows members of Stong to create an account and be in the loop with current events,” says Sehgal.
York is also “hosting a variety of virtual orientations to introduce new students to York and provide the opportunity to meet new people, learn about their degree program and introduce all of the great things York has to offer,” says Dagonas.