Covid-19 continues to affect college students in 2022

By: Alexa Key and GWU Today Staff

COVID-19 in 2022, how is this still impacting students?

As we enter 2022, the question remains: how COVID-19 still impacting us? Nearly three years into the pandemic students still face a seemingly constant change of regulations and protocols making everyday life sometimes difficult to navigate.

Gardner-Webb University students, ranging from nursing students, student teachers, student athletes, reflect what their daily lives include today as Covid continues to be a factor during their college years.

Student Athletes

On Jan. 3, the NCAA in regard to the Big South Conference, released a statement regarding COVID-19 protocol. “If you test positive stay home for 5 days, test on day 5, if an athlete tests negative, continue to wear a mask for 5 additional days,” the announcement said.

In the case a student athlete is exposed to COVID-19, there are some different rules that play into it. To be considered fully vaccinated, you must have completed your primary series of the vaccine followed by the booster. If an athlete is fully vaccinated, they must wear a mask around others for 10 days, test on day 5 if possible.

Student athletes are aware of this change per Gardner-Webb athletic trainers. What most athletes weren’t aware of was that COVID-19 would still be impacting them 3 years later. “College athletics hasn’t changed much this year, however we are now testing 3 times a week and that wasn’t something I was exactly planning on this year,” said Carter Heller, class of 2023 and member of the GWU baseball team.

Athletes’ eligibility policies have not evaded change as well. “I do have 2 extra years of eligibility. Because of COVID I’ll be a 21-year-old freshman. It’s forced me to think of decisions that I never thought I’d have to make,” Heller said.

Drew Janssen, class of 2023, who is also a part of the GWU baseball team isn’t sure what the future holds for him. “For eligibility I’m not sure yet. I am planning to just do my original four years of school and start work if professional baseball doesn’t work out.”

For Janssen, his experience has been different since he is from Belgium and has traveled to Gardner-Webb to play baseball. Janssen adds, “At my Junior College we were told we couldn’t go out of town to do fun stuff because of the pandemic. It’s starting to ease up every year, but you realize it’s still a part of athletics. When vaccinated it’s not a big deal anymore especially in the US, back home it’s different,” Janssen said.

For other athletes some cases have been different. For sophomore softball player Katie Mitchell college has always included covid-related factors. “I don’t know college softball without COVID,” Mitchell said. Mitchell adds, “You can’t have activities on campus without having all these precautions or we don’t even have activities on campus at all.”

The difference in graduate years from 2023 to 2024 dictate whether or not some students have experienced the dramatic changes in college student-life. As seen, some students were there in 2019 when the change happened, for others this is all they know.

Student Teaching

COVID has affected the way college students learn, the biggest change being having to learn online. Now student teaching faces the challenge of preparing for this.

Hope Jeffords, a senior at GWU majoring in education, is now preparing herself for the new era of teaching with COVID. “Before student teaching everything we had learned was about preparing us to become successful teachers, but now we lost all access to schools and were not able to participate in clinical experiences.”

The concern now for student teaching is whether or not students feel prepared entering a classroom. “We had no real experience in a classroom which caused us to enter student teaching having never taught students. It felt like I was going into student teaching blind.”

As seen in college classrooms, many educators are now trained to have back up plans in the case of COVID-related issues occurs. Jeffords is seeing this first hand, “Because of covid there are more responsibilities that go beyond just being a student teacher, and higher stress levels. We are always having to think about what back-up lessons we can plan and are required to be prepared for remote learning if anything were to happen.”

Another challenge at hand is educating at the K-12 level. Jeffords is currently teaching in a first-grade class and has already experienced some of the challenges due to COVID. “It is very hard to teach first graders through a screen because you cannot connect and engage students. It is hard to assess their knowledge and truly know if they are understanding the information being taught.”

Covid continues to change on a regular basis. To keep up with updated information and changes visit GWU.

Student Nursing

Student Nursing is also facing some difficulties due to COVID. They are seeing change in the curriculum and how to prepare for a pandemic.

Amelia Borders is a nursing student at GWU in her Junior year. Borders was a freshman when the pandemic first began. Though most of her academic career has been through the pandemic, she still experienced some of the effective adjustments the program made. The biggest change that Borders noticed in the program was the introduction of more protective wear and the change in clinicals.

Consistency has been key for college students, as everything with the pandemic has made academics tentative. Borders values her relationships with her professors through the pandemic. Borders said, “the teachers,” were the true component of consistency in her program.

Though Borders is living in a new era nursing, she still feels optimistic about her future as a nurse and her career in the program. “Just being there [GWU classroom], living in the moments, makes all the difference,” Borders said.