This article is sponsored by Newman University.
One year ago this spring, all of our lives changed.
What was yet to come over the remaining months in 2020, none of us had any idea of what to expect. Grocery store supplies were being stockpiled as people began to realize how different life had suddenly become, literally, overnight. What we once took for granted as always being easily available, such as toilet paper and canned green beans at the local grocery store, disappeared off shelves. . We were left scratching our heads, confused and apprehensive about what kind of Twilight Zone-esque situation we found ourselves in. This new world left all of us wondering what the future held for our families and how best to move forward.
As the mom of a college student, I knew my daughter’s world and the lives of so many other college students was about to be changed dramatically. No one was left untouched. But knowing my daughter was attending Newman University, a small private college, gave me reassurance and hope. As a faculty member at her college, as well as an alumna of a small university, I knew my daughter was in excellent hands. Private, small colleges not only offer personalized care and concern for each student, but also decisions can be made quickly and actions taken immediately because of their small size. That was critical with the COVID-19 crisis.
Student Life During COVID-19
The enormity of the pandemic situation left students and parents confused and wondering what college campus life was going to evolve into. Safety measures had to be put in place immediately, which was overwhelming.
Newman student-athletes on the road headed to tournament play were called back to campus at once and told to instead pack up and head home.
Student leadership and club meetings were immediately put on hold, leaving plans temporarily unresolved.
Many students had already left for home to begin spring break only to find that they would not be allowed to return to campus, leaving them unprepared for the return of classes without their textbooks and supplies.
Every aspect across campus was affected and the normal life of a college student had come to an abrupt halt, leaving them confused, scared and wondering how they would proceed with their education, including my daughter.
Now, to say that life was a breeze under the new-found rules and changes my daughter and her friends would face once classes resumed after spring break last year would clearly be an understatement. Everything about campus life changed. It had to. It was essential that everyone be protected, and to be honest, no one fully understood what this pandemic entailed because information was changing so quickly.
A Mom’s Perspective
As a parent, I was so impressed with how Newman faculty members personally reached out to my daughter to check on her well-being and to reassure her, as well as her classmates, that courses would continue, albeit in a different but safer environment.
Out-of-state students who were unable to return to campus were able to connect with residential life folks in their dorms to arrange for their personal belongings and textbooks to be shipped to them.
Classroom faculty and sponsors in the arts and student leadership organizations that my daughter was involved in reached out individually to communicate the new arrangements that had been made … and to reassure her and other students that they would be OK.
Even the Newman University president and provost, along with school deans, reached out to communicate with students and parents to affirm that the safety of the young people was of top concern, define the measures that had been taken, and continually updated the community on COVID-19 safety protocols and status.
While the new normal was not the traditional college life students had expected, decisions were swiftly made and protective actions taken within only a few short days to ensure the safety of all, in large part because of the small size of the Newman community.
Here we are, one year later. Our students have learned to adapt to new online classroom delivery methods and hygiene procedures. Relationships have been strengthened by continual communication among faculty, administrators, students and parents.
As a mother, I am so incredibly grateful that my daughter was part of the Newman University community that provided a strong sense of well-being and strength at a time when chaos was the norm.
As a Newman faculty member, I cannot be prouder of the team I work with and the precision and speed of which alternate arrangements were made during this crisis. But most of all, I see hope and finally a glimmer of light at the end of this exceptionally long tunnel and the strong possibility of resuming a more normal campus life for our college kids.
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Located in the heart of Wichita, Kansas – Newman University is a Catholic university named for St. John Henry Newman and founded by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ for the purpose of empowering graduates to transform society.