HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WRBL) -Colleges and universities across the world are making necessary adjustments to accommodate students during the pandemic.
While some institutions have decided to allow students to return to campus for in-person instruction while others have decided to transition to remote instruction. Meanwhile, several colleges and universities are sending COVID-19 test kits and care packages to faculty, staff and students.
Tarkesia Blakley, a native of Memphis, Tenn., is a junior at Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo. She has been involved in several campus organizations and has excelled in the classroom. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Biology and plans to pursue a career in the medical field.
Most of Blakley’s classes are in-person including labs, which require physical activities, rather than watching demonstrations or listening to a lecture. This has caused Blakley to return to campus during the fall instead of taking classes online.
Though Blakley plans to return to campus in the fall, she is anxious. Blakley’s greatest concern is returning to college during the pandemic and students may be unable to practice social distancing due to large crowds inside and outside of class.
“At my school, we are required to wear a mask, but social distancing is what’s lacking and that’s is most important. Because I am a bio major, it’s typically 100-110 people in the classroom. Wearing a mask and social distancing go hand and hand but thousands of students will be walking close to one another to get to classes,” Blakley said.
There are over 1,318 cases of COVID-19 in Greene County, Mo, at time of publication.
Missouri State University released a plan designed to help students amid the pandemic. Students in larger classes will have assigned seating arrangements to respect social distancing laws. Blended courses will have in-person lectures one day and online lectures on an alternative day.
Blakley says the university will provide wipes and hand sanitizer stations in the common areas and hallways for students.
Blakley has decided to live alone during the pandemic. She will also take essential measures to prevent contracting the virus.
“I decided to get an apartment by myself that comes with a washer and dryer. I’ve ordered face shields to wear along with my mask and gloves while at school. I will wipe down the desk and seat before I sit down. I will not be attending social events or hanging with people as much,” Blakley said.
Blakley has decided to drive to school daily instead of taking shuttles and transportation services for students.
“I will drive to school every day instead of taking the shuttle because I do not know how often the seats and other areas will be clean. I will not be able to practice social distancing on the shuttles because it’s often crowded. There are so many students who ride the shuttles regularly and I do not want to take the chance of catching the virus,” Blakley said.
Blakley’s favorite restaurant on campus is Chick-fil-A and Panda Express. She visits these restaurants nearly every day after class. Due to long lines and cases of COVID-19 steadily increasing, Blakley will cook meals at home or order carry-out online.
Blakley has a plan if she contracts the coronavirus while in school.
“If I somehow contract the virus, I will have to quarantine in my apartment by myself. I will communicate with my professors and I believe that they will be understanding. I will do my best to stock up on food and toiletries as much as I can just in case, I have to remain shut in from everyone. I will just hope and pray that I recover if I catch the virus,” Blakley said.
Blakley relies on her parents for encouragement and will continue to do so should she become discouraged during the upcoming academic year.
“My courageous parents are encouraging me daily and they will continue to encourage me when I return to school. I know that If this pandemic was to overwhelm me or distract my attention away from my studies, I know that I can rely on them for loving support. They’ll be there for me and just praying for my safety,” Blakley said.
Fall classes at Missouri State University begin Aug.24.