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Teaching during the time of COVID-19

Nicole Fasciano

Associate Editor

The novel coronavirus requires many changes to our daily lives here at Merrimack College. There are new protocols for mask wearing, social distancing, and our classroom settings. 

While some students chose to learn fully remote this semester, others are still engaging physically in the classroom. Many professors had to transform their courses to accommodate with these students and public health requirements

With new classroom guidelines in place, classroom occupancy was reduced to accommodate social distancing measures. In addition, all classrooms are equipped with sanitizing stations and disinfectant wipes. Students are asked to wipe down their designated seats before and after use. While masks are always required within the classroom, professors can also stand behind plastic barriers as an extra safety precaution. 

For many professors, this pivot to hybrid or online learning required a lot of extra time and effort to ensure students are still receiving a strong education. 

For many students, making the pivot to online learning in itself is a new challenge to overcome. Many students have needed to adapt the ways in which they participate, engage and generally learn in an online environment.

“I try to make sure my remote students feel as engaged as possible,” said Assistant Professor of English, Emma Duffy-Comparone. “Even if there’s side chatter going on before class, I try to give them the skinny so they can chime in!”

Making adjustments to course syllabi and creating engaging activities for students are only a few changes Merrimack Professors have made for the success of their students this semester. Assistant Professor of Communication and Media, Melissa “Mish” Zimdars said she spent a lot of time over the summer redoing all of her classes and creating more interactive lectures and segments to accommodate online learning.

With online learning becoming a new norm for students and professors this semester, trying to find a groove which works best for both is not always easy. I know for myself, managing some classes online and some in person is sometimes a  challenge. It can be hard to immerse yourself in online class material at times.  

“Trying to recreate that magic that can happen when you’re all in a room together [has been hard],” Zimdars said.

Although teaching and learning looks a bit different in the classroom so far this semester, the efforts are necessary to  ensure student safety and the high quality education Merrimack students have come to expect.