Coronavirus Testing, White Building

Students sit six-feet apart waiting for emailed coronavirus test results inside the White Building’s mandatory coronavirus testing center on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021 in University Park, Pa.

A year ago, Penn State President Eric Barron announced to the university during spring break that remote instruction would begin March 16, 2020.

The plan was to start in-person classes on April 6, but virtual learning continued through the spring and summer semesters of 2020.

Fall of 2020 brought student’s back to campus with some in-person instruction, but mostly online classes and an early end of in-person right before Thanksgiving.

Now, after a delay of in-person instruction for this semester and a coronavirus vaccine being distributed across the country, Penn State has more in-person instruction with a plan for the fall 2021 semester to be mostly in-person.

I was reading through Barron’s statement from a year ago to get more context about what to write for this, and it is so interesting to see how the world has changed so much in just a year. Everything written in that statement seemed uncertain and for understandable reasons.

A year ago, we all thought the coronavirus was some small thing that was going to last only for a couple of weeks.

Penn State and the whole globe had no idea what the coronavirus was, how it spread and how deadly it could be.

The “three week period” in which we would refrain from in-person anything actually turned into more than three months. Everything got shut down and everything stayed shut down for a long time.

Going online, starting from Barron’s first statement on the coronavirus, has completely upended students and faculty at Penn State.

Everyone I have talked to this past year has been affected by online classes and the coronavirus overall. It has been a draining year academically, physically and mentally.

Penn State as a whole seemed to be in a weird state of confusion just like the rest of the world, and at least now, we have a sense of what the coronavirus is.

Reflecting on a time of uncertainty, I remember how confused I was because of the plenty of unknowns about the coronavirus that I thought shutting down school to go virtual was pointless.

Now looking back, it was the right decision — not just for individual students, but for the university as a whole.

If Penn State did not shut down during spring break, who knows how many cases of coronavirus would infect students and faculty.

Mentally, the pandemic has taken a toll on me and many others. Virtual learning has also affected me mentally.

For me, online learning does not work for my brain and I can’t focus enough to get anything done. A year ago, I would have never imagined how much harder I would have to work to achieve my academic goals in a virtual setting.

The idea of not being able to control anything and being stuck in my parents house really affected me mentally. My learning was spiraling downward and many of my friends can agree with me.

I quite honestly have tried to block out this point in my life. A “normal life” is a concept that seemed to die off years ago, but a life without a global pandemic was just over a year ago, which is not long ago at all.

If you asked me a year ago if I ever thought the world would shut down due to a deadly virus, I would have called you crazy. The whole world has completely flipped upside down.


If you're interested in submitting a Letter to the Editor, click here.