STU students react to online courses and GNB Level 3 restrictions
Gabriel Marquez, a fourth-year student at St. Thomas University, has been studying from his home country of Ecuador since June 2020.
This month, he finally returns to Fredericton.
Marquez wanted to be back for his last semester of college in person. He hadn’t planned to return at the start of the fall semester since out of his five classes, only one was in person, due to his professor’s decisions.
“It’s cheaper to stay here in my home country and not [spend money] on rent or residence… it wasn’t worth it,” he said.
Since Marquez is a communications major, he completes a two-semester internship for class credit. At the start of the fall semester, he explained his situation to his internship employer, letting them know he could return to Fredericton to work in person, but informed them that most of his class schedule was online. . But, her internship allowed her to do the work remotely from Ecuador.
This semester, Marquez is taking six classes and three of them are online for the entire semester, due to the decisions of his professors. With three face-to-face classes plus his internship, he figured it was finally time for him to return to Fredericton.
Marquez first bought a plane ticket to Fredericton in August, but as four of his classes were moved online by his professors, he changed his ticket to Jan. 7, intending to return before the start. of the winter semester.
But on December 16, Marquez’s father tested positive for COVID-19. The following week, on December 27, he and the rest of his family tested positive.
Marquez was isolated until January 10, meaning he missed his January 7 flight. He then changed his tickets to Jan. 21 so he could return in time for his in-person classes to start on Jan. 24.
Since STU recently announced that online classes are extended through February 7, Marquez has changed her ticket again for January 27.
“My family and me [are] living with this uncertainty and i know it’s not the fault of the university because it’s a global situation but these notifications that they are going to extend [online] course, it’s almost at the last minute – at least for international students,” he said.
Marquez said if classes were extended online after Feb. 7, he would be frustrated. But whether or not STU decides to extend online classes, it will not change its flight for the fourth time.
“I already have my ticket, I really want to go and do my last semester in New Brunswick,” he said.
Emily Fox, a sophomore at STU, has only taken two in-person classes since she started college.
Fox started at STU in September 2020, when the entire year was taught online due to COVID-19. Last semester, out of his five classes, three of them were taught online due to the decisions of his professors. This semester, four more of her classes are online, so she was excited for the only in-person class that would allow her to be on campus — until the university temporarily moved all classes online.
“It was kind of frustrating because you wait all through high school to get out and go to college or college and you hear how amazing it can be,” she said.
At the start of the fall semester, Fox said she was thrilled when classes were announced in person because she never got to experience the campus during her freshman year.
Fox said having classes online right now is beneficial because she wouldn’t want to have five different classes on campus, which could potentially expose her to COVID-19.
She said the first week of online classes this semester was a little hard to get used to because every class has a Zoom meeting.
“[That] never happened to me before, I only had a last semester and it was just a small 30 minute conference, so it’s really strange to have two Zoom calls a day, ”a- she declared.
Some students are concerned about the new Level 3 winter action plan restrictions that the New Brunswick government put in place on Jan. 14.
Fifth-year STU student Jaime LeBlanc works at the Champlain Mall in Moncton and finds it odd that retail store restrictions remain at Level 2, meaning they aren’t moving to just pick-up or delivery in street edge.
“It’s just going to encourage people to go out and shop – it’s not going to help anything,” she said.
LeBlanc said she thought Tier 3 restrictions were a good step, but said people would get through it.
“I think they have to be a lot stricter with it and I think they have to take it very seriously because it’s almost like the government has normalized [COVID-19] for us and they try to teach us to live with it instead of [fighting] against that,” she said.
When Level 3 of the Winter Action Plan was announced by GNB on Jan. 13, they said it would only be in place for two weeks, ending Jan. 30. be disappointed if it is extended.
LeBlanc said she thinks GNB should have put those restrictions in place this summer.
“I think people have definitely taken advantage of the summer with the lifting of travel restrictions…then taking it away from them is really upsetting,” she said.
LeBlanc has one in-person class this semester and the other three are permanently online due to faculty decisions.
“I think it’s really good because I’m the type of person who just focuses on one course, does it all in a month… I like being able to do it in my spare time,” LeBlanc said.
She said she also likes being able to do her homework from the comfort of her home and since she lives in Moncton, she doesn’t have to travel for her in-person class either.
LeBlanc said she would like the university to come up with a plan for the entire semester, rather than just extending online classes every two weeks. She wants online classes to stay through the semester so cases will hopefully go down.
“That’s the only way to keep cases low and I think everything should be locked down until there are no cases and then you can start to reopen a bit.”