Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Back to school – COVID-19 style 

Courtney Miller balances teaching herself French and completing readings for her Library Sciences class. Photo by Isabel Beer

Zoom classes, blended learning, mask wearing, no gatherings, is causing some college students to wonder if  the tuition dollars are worth paying during a pandemic.

“If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard ‘these are strange and unprecedented times’ during a zoom lecture, I’d be able to pay off my student loans,” said Courtney Miller, 22, a Pratt library science graduate student. “It is really difficult for me to learn at home and not in the classroom, and so I’m a little frustrated that not only do I have to do that, but like, I have to also pay full tuition. Make it make sense.” 

With many institutions resuming instruction digitally or with blended learning – both face-to-face and online – many students are questioning whether or not it is worth it to return and pay full tuition prices. 

“It seems kinda silly that I’m basically at ‘Zoom University’, learning online, but still have to pay like I was in-person,” said Miller. “I don’t even have access to the resources I would on-campus, like the library. I know I technically have the databases and whatever, but it just doesn’t feel the same.”

Anthony Tucci speaks with his ACT tutoring class via Zoom from the sunroom in his Brooklyn apartment. Photo by Isabel Beer

The global pandemic has also forced many schools to completely change their testing requirements – many colleges and universities made the news when they determined this year they would not be requiring standardized testing for admission. 

“I work as an SAT, GRE, ACT tutor so a lot has changed for me because of the pandemic,” Anthony Tucci, 24, from Washington DC said. “When some institutions announced they weren’t going to require some of these tests, I kind of panicked a little bit because I was scared my job would be obsolete. Not only do I have to adjust for online instruction, but the shift in job security as well.” 

This dramatic change in classroom setting has been difficult for instructors as well as for students – as the majority of teachers and professors now have to account for learning and working in conjunction with new technology as well as having to adjust curriculum. 

According to a recent study done by the US Department of Education, approximately 14% – or about 9.4 million students – don’t have regular access to at home internet. Accessibility to learning is a dialogue that is just now beginning to happen in earnest in many institutions. When instruction was still in-person, many students relied on the technology available at their schools to be able to print, look online for research, or to complete extracurricular activities like apply for schools or jobs. 

“It is really strange, I feel like I’m the student half the time, when I’m supposed to be the teacher,” said Oakland Technical High School teacher’s assistant, Taeja Kim. “There’s not a lot of technological literacy among teachers, a lot of us are older. We all took summer training courses to prepare, of course, but it is still tricky sometimes when I have to share screens or when a student can’t see or hear me properly. And then I’m really stuck.”



Other Stories in Special Report: Shutdown: The Coronavirus

No Actors, But the Show Goes On

James Pothen December 5, 2020

New York City, a place of refuge 

Edith Rousselot December 4, 2020

Commuting in a pandemic world

Michelle Diaz December 3, 2020

Battling food insecurities during a pandemic

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Honk!: Cars earn a special spot in 2020

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Working out looks very different during a pandemic

Chuyan Jiang December 2, 2020

One kitchen’s transformation in the age of isolation

Isabel Beer December 2, 2020

Nursing homes are filled with sadness and loss during pandemic shut down

Inga Parkel December 1, 2020

The show goes on

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Loyal members help keep independent cinemas afloat

Courtney Guarino December 1, 2020

Musicians deal with the reality of no live shows as covid takes center stage

Paola Michelle Ortiz December 1, 2020

 Black Friday’s Aftermath

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi November 30, 2020

The Spirit of Little Haiti

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Small business owners hope for future relief

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Brooklyn Book Festival held virtually

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NYC Restaurant owners worry about maintaining business during winter 

Isabel Beer September 27, 2020

The pandemic is causing mental health struggles for many Latinos

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 24, 2020

Politically divided family can agree on one thing, rallies are bad during a pandemic

Michelle Diaz September 23, 2020

New Yorkers are vulnerable to mental issues due to pandemic

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 23, 2020

Healthcare professionals struggle with Trump’s decisions during pandemic

Tori Luecking September 23, 2020

Some Americans Say “Not So Fast” on Operation Warp Speed

James Pothen September 23, 2020

Trump voters unfazed by morality of Trump’s Covid response

Norah Hogan September 22, 2020

Trump rallies continue, despite the rising Covid-19 death toll

Isabel Beer September 22, 2020

Latinos weigh in on President Trump’s management of the pandemic

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 21, 2020

Fast track vaccine causes fear

Kaity Assaf September 21, 2020

It’s business as usual at McSorley’s Old Ale House

Tori Luecking September 20, 2020

Trump defiance to hold indoor rallies amidst COVID-19 sparks polarized responses 

Courtney Guarino September 20, 2020

NYC Cafes and restaurants try and survive the pandemic

Isabel Beer September 19, 2020

A typical afternoon at Shade Bar NYC

Kaity Assaf September 19, 2020

West Village staple, Caffe Reggio, remains open for outdoor dining in the wake of coronavirus restrictions 

Norah Hogan September 19, 2020

Fort Greene’s Dino adds outdoor dining to keep business flowing

Courtney Guarino September 19, 2020

COVID-19 hampers Fashion Week for photographers

Daniel Karel September 18, 2020

On the heels of revelation that Trump downplayed the covid threat, voters question rallies resuming

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 16, 2020

Overburdened mothers in Pakistan are relieved as schools reopens

Quratulain Tejani September 13, 2020

Students from different parts of the world struggle as schools reopen during a pandemic

Chuyan Jiang September 12, 2020

Special needs students face learning obstacles during Covid-19

Courtney Guarino September 12, 2020

The new normal for school life is abnormal in Michigan

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 11, 2020

California School District Parents and Teachers Clash About Return to School

Norah Hogan September 10, 2020

A tribute to the mask pioneers

Bohao Liu July 11, 2020

Air pollution in China rebounds to pre-COVID level

Hannah Zhang July 11, 2020

ICE takes aim at international students

Maria Abreu July 10, 2020

Chinese students trapped by new ICE policy

Zishu Sherry Qin July 10, 2020

New ICE policy adds more turmoil to the lives of international students

Shiyu Xu July 10, 2020

Lawsuits follow ICE policy barring international students who are taking online classes

Joanna Lin Su July 10, 2020

Economists say the US needs a bold, generous fiscal response. Congress is likely to disappoint. 

Ahmed Mohamed July 9, 2020

Overseas Singaporeans have pandemic obstacles to voting

Yifan Yu July 9, 2020

Proximity sensors and hygiene stations are the “new normal”

Joanna Lin Su July 9, 2020

 Tour ticket vendors miss the hustle and bustle of Times Square

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Dengue outbreak could be a greater threat than covid in Singapore

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