BY PRESTON BURROWS
Fort Hays State University started classes Aug. 17 in the midst of a global pandemic. The college formulated a plan to let students come back to campus and student life by following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — such as wearing face masks and maintaining 6-feet social distancing.
FHSU has created a new way for students to attend classes during the COVID-19 pandemic by making a new layout for the semester. There are three different ways classes are being presented this year to all FHSU students — Totally On-Campus (TOC), Hybrid Course (HC) and Total Online Courses (TOL).
TOC courses will be offered in an eight-week timeframe for classes that cannot be completed through an online platform. HC’s contain on-campus class time that is needed but then uses an online format to conduct other class work that does not require to meet in person. The last type of course is TOL, which is only available through programs such as Blackboard, Yellowdig, etc., to provide a way of socially distancing that lets students complete their college degree at home.
Skyelynn Munoz, a senior majoring in general studies, misses how class used to be before the pandemic. She is taking three online classes and one hybrid class for the fall semester.
“I enjoy my one on-campus class because it allows me to still be on campus for the experience and the college vibe,” Munoz said.
Many seniors are new to online classes since colleges did not have to worry about COVID-19 before the beginning of 2020 when the nation and rest of the world shut down to help flatten the curve of the virus. Many schools in Kansas had their spring break for the year and never returned to college for classes. However, FHSU students never got to enjoy their spring break since they left a week before it began.
Munoz believes the environment on campus is energetic and lively because she and the rest of the students get to interact with others even under the special circumstances of CDC regulations. While Munoz is grateful for her hybrid class, other students’ opinions vary.
Aly Tarango, a sophomore majoring in finance with a banking concentration, has a different opinion of hybrid courses.
“My hybrid classes are confusing because I have to think about what days I’m on campus or Zoom,” Tarango said.
Tarango likes having a routine schedule that the online classes bring instead of the uncertainty of the hybrid class switching between on-campus and online. She notices the toll COVID-19 is taking on the students from this new way of college.
Tarango worries about the virus spreading throughout Hays as the year progresses.
“It is definitely harder to be a student in the pandemic because of all the rules and regulations we have to follow,” she said, mentioning the CDC recommendations and the confusion of having different types of classes.
Abby Marioni, a junior majoring in business administration, sees the environment of FHSU as mello because it is a difficult task to communicate with peers when everyone has to wear a mask.
“Also, my online class is awkward because we all just sit and listen to the teacher while staring at each other. We don’t really interact with other students whether it is on campus or online,” Marioni said.
Marioni said there is a difference in college life before the pandemic and now.
The change in format of classes shows the learning environments have changed.
With the move-in dates of FHSU students and recent weekend parties, there has been a rise in COVID cases. In the last 14 days, there have been 36 active cases.
To keep up to date, follow the FHSU “COVID-19 Response.”