The complications of going back to campus

Student share their concerns about returning to in-person classes

Dalhousie University and other post-secondary institutions across Nova Scotia are offering in-person learning once again, and unsurprisingly, some students have concerns about going back to campus.

Having my own worries about returning to school, I was curious to know what other students are most worried about, so I asked local students for their thoughts. I was surprised to learn that while the COVID-19 pandemic remains an issue, there is more focus on restrictions and in-person challenges than potential illness.

My second chance with digital learning

For me, going back to in-person classes means making sacrifices.

I’ve always hoped Dal would expand distance learning options.  Being a full-time mother, working and studying, it’s difficult to juggle attending campus as well.

Last year I saw the accessibility I needed to learn, work and parent. Personally, back to in-person learning means my life is about to get hectic.

My classes are meticulously scheduled to align with my son’s school schedule. To maintain my course load, this means scheduling night courses when my husband is home to help with the kids.

I live in Dartmouth. Transportation eats up a lot of time as I get kids to school or to the babysitter, set out for campus, and rush back to pick everybody up before heading back for late classes.

I’m nervous about what the coming year will look like, but like my peers, I’m excited to see everyone and meet professors and classmates face to face.

Test stress and in-person classes

Learning at home offers advantages some students will miss, especially during test time.

Loren Mosher, a third-year Dal student studying recreation management is worried about in-person testing.

“Test-taking has never been one of my strong suits. All the alternatives to traditional testing during online learning, such as essays and projects, really worked in my favor. While some people work fine in the traditional education system, others don’t. Providing options and flexibility for student learning will help students get more out of their classes,” she says.

Fortunately, Mosher isn’t letting the worry of upcoming tests daunt her.

“I think my excitement of returning to in-person classes outweighs test stress at the moment.”

With her excitement overshadowing nerves, Mosher says her main concern now is getting to Halifax on time. She currently lives in Victoria, B.C., and will be flying to N.S. in September, cutting things close.

“Between making sure I receive my second vaccine to avoid quarantine, my work contract ending in August and my lease in Halifax not starting until September, trying to balance everything has been a bit wild.”

On the bright side, she’s been keeping a positive attitude about COVID-19 and future precautions the province may take.

“I know from living on campus the last two years that Dal and Nova Scotia are quick to act when it comes to COVID-19 cases. I feel optimistic that if everyone can respect the rules the year will go smoothly,” Mosher explains.

Finding a home in Halifax

For Jonah Kurylowich, returning to Halifax for his third year of environmental design at Dalhousie means finding a home. With a housing crisis looming over the city, many students are left with the same concern.

Kurylowich hails from Alberta and spent a week in August driving across the country to return to Dal.

“We’ve been running around like crazy trying to find a place to live for school. It seems the housing market in Halifax has really heated up. We’ve seen many listings and it seems renters are especially vulnerable in this supply drained market,” he says.

Kurylowich also explains he has seen at least one scam for student housing, making the search for a home more difficult.

“It just popped into my email one afternoon,” he says, talking about the fraudulent student housing offer. “It seemed too good to be true, and when I googled it, I found it was the exact same message sent to people all over Canada.”

Despite the stress of moving, he is excited to collaborate, see friends and meet new classmates.

When asked whether learning in person poses any other concerns, he said, “Being online gave me the opportunity to stay connected with my home community. Being in person lets me connect with a new community.” 

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