Gary Newsome

Editor’s note: The students quoted in this story were interviewed March 12, when the seriousness of the pandemic may have been less apparent. At the time, there were only six confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Carolina and Gov. Henry McMaster had not yet declared a state of emergency.

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — As the COVID-19 pandemic has canceled numerous events, prompted many businesses to close and forced most schools to implement remote learning, students at Winthrop University are trying to adjust to the situation.

Winthrop initially announced March 12 that it would hold classes online for two weeks, but then said a week later (March 19) that classes would be held remotely for the remainder of the semester.

On March 23, the school reported that a student, who was on campus briefly during spring break, had tested positive for COVID-19.

It’s unclear if other students or staff have contracted the virus, because Winthrop said it didn’t plan to publicly announce additional cases.

However, prior to spring break, some students said they weren’t happy about the decision to move classes online.

“It kind of stinks because I love meeting in class and I also have to work (on campus) so it’s kind of inconvenient,” said Beth Warnken, a junior English Major.

Savannah Roper, a junior graphic design major, said she would rather attend class in person, because it would be a lot easier for her to communicate with her classmates.

“I guess I’m conflicted, because also on the other hand, I get to spend more time with my family so that is a cool opportunity I don’t usually get to have,” said Roper.

Students also expressed concern that moving classes online could potentially affect their academic performance.

For example, Warnken said it will be difficult to have discussions, which typically happen in-class, online.

“There are two classes I take and we read a novel each week and trying to have class discussions online makes it a little more difficult when all you have is like the Blackboard discussion posts,” said Warnken.

Roper said her motivation might be reduced if she isn’t in the classroom.

“I’m just really going to have to be conscious about how I manage my time and schedule everything in advance, so I don’t forget anything,” said Roper.

She said she was mainly nervous about her print design class, which might not be conducive to an online setting.

“You actually have to print things off and it’s all about preparing files for print, so it’s going to be interesting to see how we can pull that one off,” said Roper.

However, Jordan Causey, a senior sports management major, said he wasn’t too nervous about classes going online.

“I like more face-to-face classes, but I feel like I’ll be able to get the work done online as well,” said Causey. “I understand they are trying to protect people and keep people safe and healthy and so I see the importance in that.”

Roper said people should be considerate of others during the quarantine.

“We could be a little bit more, I guess, intentional about where we go. If we’re going out to all different parts of the country, that’s going to spread the virus more rather than being contained at a campus,” said Roper.

However, initially, students said the situation may have been overhyped.

“I think it’s good to take preventative measures, but I don’t know if it is as scary as people are thinking that it is,” said Warnken.

“I think what they are doing may be the best thing, but I don’t know if the coronavirus is as bad as what a lot people are making it out to be,” said Causey.