Navigating the COVID-19 outbreak

SPU classes moved to online due to the virus, students and faculty try to adjust

Julia Herman, Assistant News Editor

On Friday, March 7, President Daniel Martin sent an email to the Seattle Pacific University campus announcing that class sessions and finals will take place online for the rest of the winter quarter due to the rapid spreading of the novel COVID-19 in Washington State.

This decision was made following the University of Washington’s and Seattle University’s decision to move their classes online. According to the Washington State Department of Health, there have been 71 confirmed cases and 15 deaths from the virus in King County alone.

Both SPU students and faculty have been put into a position where they are scrambling to figure out what to do next. For some students, the outbreak and the transition to online classes has altered what their next few weeks look like.

“I will lose a week of pay from the school because I tutor and I’m a TA,” sophomore math major Gabbie Cockerell said. “I’m supposed to go to Tijuana over spring break for a missions trip, but if that gets canceled I have no idea what I’m doing for spring break.”

Cockerell’s plans have shifted significantly from the virus and she worries about what else might come out of this. As stated in Martin’s announcement, residents halls will remain open for those whose travel plans have been changed. Cockerell is hoping that it will not come down to that.

“It’s very possible I might get stuck here — hopefully not because I really don’t want to be quarantined in this building for three weeks. No car, no way to get out of here if flights were to shut down or something,” Cockerell said.

Students on campus have been feeling a mix of emotions and varying levels of concern over the virus. According to a poll taken on The Falcon’s website, only 23% of students who voted are not concerned at all by the virus.

For many students, they are moving through this trying time by recognizing the seriousness of the virus, but also trying to remain optimistic about it.

“I am somewhat nervous but, at the same time, SPU seems to be doing what they think is right so, in the end, I feel pretty safe,” sophomore business major Anneli Johnson said. “I am not that nervous because, from what I have heard, it would just be like getting the cold or the flu.”

For second-year Emily Bogle, she is not worried about the outbreak for herself but understands that with the dangers of this virus that it can negatively impact others who are more at risk and tries to keep that in mind while interacting with others.

“While I, myself, may not suffer greatly by the outbreak, I am aware of the part I play in being proactive in preventing the transmission of germs amidst the outbreak that greatly affects others in my shared community,” Bogle said.

For spring break, Bogle is traveling home to Iowa and is trying to be considerate towards others’ unease of her traveling from Seattle.

“I am aware of the tension that people back home have with me traveling from Seattle, which has become the epicenter of the outbreak it would seem,” Bogle said. “While I still plan to go home, I understand that my interactions with people may look different due to the unsaid tension and anxiety people may have.”

With classes no longer being held in person for the rest of winter quarter, faculty members have had to make shifts to their schedules and rework their finals.

“It has certainly already been quite time consuming, at least for those of us who do almost all of our teaching offline, such as myself,” April Middlejans, a professor of English and cultural studies, said.

Middlejans moved her remaining classes to canvas, where she plans on opening a discussion board for her students’ assignments. She is still trying to decide how she wants to approach the final because she wants to be mindful of people who might not have access to the internet during the time.

Other professors have adjusted their schedules accordingly. In Ruth Ediger’s UCOR 2000 class, she shifted her final presentation project to being a paper. In Jennifer Norton’s Foundational Issues in Education class, her final was supposed to be students giving a lesson to the class, but she changed it to having them record a video of themselves giving a lesson and upload it to Canvas.

The SPU community has experienced a major shift with the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. Students and faculty are still navigating the unknowns of what is to come.

“A lot of things are just unknown right now. I think that’s what everyone is feeling. There’s a lot of things up in the air,” Cockerell said.