COVID-19 and Resources at Tri-C
By Maya Serna
It is safe to say that no one was expecting a pandemic to break out during our past spring semester.
We are now starting part-way into the fall semester, and there is still seemingly no end in sight for COVID-19. The pandemic has affected everyone on a personal and academic level. Students and faculty are dealing with job losses, busy school schedules, social distancing, personal health, relationships, and myriad other issues. In what ways will COVID-19 be affecting student’s classes, motivation, grades, and mental health? Everyone is going to be going through this together, and everyone will probably need a lot of support. So what is Tri-C going to be doing this fall to help students out during these uncertain times?
I set up a meeting with the Dean at East Campus and asked her a few of these questions. Ms. Eafford told me a little about how the Tri-C buildings are now set up. There are six feet social-distancing markers on the floor, a limited number of people are allowed on campus at a time, and there are plexiglass barriers in different areas. Anyone entering the building is required to wear a face-covering. “If you have been on campus,” Ms. Eafford told me, “then you have seen that there are only certain areas that are open.” East Campus is also only open to students on Mondays and Thursdays to further limit exposure. It sounds like they are taking the right measures so far. Ms. Eafford also explained to me that some people are still meeting on campus, but no more than 10 people can ever gather at once. Tri-C has also partnered with the Care Alliance Central Clinic to bring COVID-19 testing to campus, which is free and open to the public. Drive-through or walk-up testing will be available at different campuses on different days.
Ms. Eafford also mentioned public Wi-Fi spots as a helpful resource for students who might not have a reliable Wi-Fi connection at home. “Each campus, at the welcome desk and on the student COVID site, lists all of the sites and what parking lot at each of the campuses that students can access free Wi-Fi”. She also mentioned that the student website has more information on other free Wi-Fi spots throughout the city of Cleveland. Tri-C is also providing different financial aid opportunities to students. “If students are eligible for financial aid, they could be eligible for up to $1,500”. Ms. Eafford explained that this financial aid money could be used to purchase a PC at the Tri-C bookstore so that students can fully access their online classes.
As for mental health resources, Ms. Eafford stated that Tri-C will simply be continuing their counseling service called Help Is Here, which is open to all students who reach out for counseling. Ms. Eafford said the Help Is Here app can help “direct [students] to other resources in the community” as well as resources at Tri-C. Tri-C is also supporting its students by moving the outreach and student engagement activities online. The college hosted a Student Success Week that included workshops on how to do well with online learning, information on transferring, a workshop on time management, and an information session about tutoring, tech, and other resources. Ms. Eafford told me that “the people running those workshops… are really trying to see how to get more students engaged.” Tri-C will be having another Student Success Week at the beginning of the Spring semester for those that missed it this time around. I also spoke a bit with Ms. Gibson, the Student Engagement Director at East Campus. She has been working on different student engagement programs like Student Success Week along with the other campuses. Ms. Gibson told me that all Tri-C campuses have come together to plan for activities and programs instead of working on their own.
Online and virtual learning has no doubt been hard for everyone to adjust to, but some people are enjoying it. Jen Walker, a student from the Western Campus, told me “This semester is going smoothly for me. I haven’t had any issues regarding the pandemic. I did have COVID at the end of last semester though, and I nearly wasn’t able to do my assignments because I was so sick. Thankfully I recovered.” It sounds like the virus has had an impact on Jen’s life, but I am happy to hear that she is doing better now. Jen stated that “I’ve always preferred virtual classes, unless they are intended to be hands-on learning, like art or chemistry, for example.” Joshua Jones, also a student from Western Campus, doesn’t like online learning as much as Jen does. “To be honest, I prefer an in-person experience for learning, because not only certain assignments (labs, field trips, and so forth) can be completed easily, but some courses would be more difficult when taking them online.” Joshua went on to say “Also, people are missing out on getting to know and working with other classmates and professors.”
Joshua told me that “if the time comes that we are able to have on-campus courses when the pandemic is over, then I will attend. Right now, I am attending online courses and doing the best I can during these rough times. ” I think we’re all hoping to be able to get back to campus soon. Different students learn better in different environments, but right now, with no choice but for people to participate in online learning, it sounds like Tri-C is doing their best to provide students with as many resources as possible to help them get through the year and stay safe.