Kennedy Ward is in her fourth year at Ontario Tech University in the Public Health program and – like many students – is concerned about COVID-19.
“People keep going out and exposing others,” says Ward. “I’m a little worried about missing in-person finals, I did get laid off work, I’m missing two concerts and a festival and it pushed me back for finding a full-time career.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the world, Canada, Durham College and Ontario Tech hard. On March 18, campus access initially was limited. Online learning started on March 23. A complete campus closure is still in effect.
Internships are postponed. Students are unsure of what their future looks like.
A number of students forced into isolation to prevent the spread of the virus and are left to think about whether or not they are going to graduate with their classmates, see their family, find a job and start their lives.
“I am trying to stay busy because it’s easy to be lazy and depressed without activity, don’t forget to talk to people, call, text, Facetime and try doing a new or favourite hobby,” says Ward.
Switching to online learning might be a new experience for some students. While DC has traditionally offered some online programming, many students choose college for a more ‘hands-on’ learning.
“All my courses are all online now, it makes it harder for me to learn but I understand why they have to do it,” says Cole Cobbett, a first-year student in the Photography program at DC.
“I think the school is addressing the pandemic in the right way but since we have no more in-person classes we should get cheaper tuition,” says Cobbett. “Being home all hours of the day is really getting to me.”
It is hard for people to stay sane during this time, but staying inside is essential to preventing the most vulnerable young and elderly people from contracting the virus.
According to Darlene Heslop, DC’s director of the Campus Health Centre, students have connected with the centre and there is help available.
“Many students have reached out for support, while the Campus Health Centre was still open for face-to-face appointments as well as now as we have moved to a virtual support model,” she says. “The students can have telephone appointments with the MDs, MH nurses, wellness coaches, nurses, and counsellors.”
DC is doing its best to support and communicate with the students as much as they can during this strange time, she says.
“We are all in this together. We are doing everything we can to support the students’ needs at this time and will continue to reach out to understand if new needs arise,” says Heslop.