Last Friday, Emma Gallaugher returned to her family’s home in Stuarts Draft for what was supposed to be a regularly scheduled Spring Break from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
Those plans changed on Wednesday afternoon when the university announced no classes would be held in person “for the foreseeable future, quite possibly through the end of the semester” in the wake of coronavirus (COVID-19), a respiratory illness. Classes will move online beginning Thursday, according to the university, extending the week-long Spring Break that began last Saturday.
Gallaugher, a first-year student in UVa’s school of architecture, described Wednesday’s announcement as an “insane day.”
“There’s definitely a lot of emotions right now — a lot of stress because I don’t know what this is going to look like with online classes,” she said. “In terms of architecture, it’s definitely going to be an adjustment. Our main class is studio which meets twice a week for about three hours, and it’s very personal and hands on.”
Having only taken one online class in high school, Gallaugher said the online college courses will be an adjustment.
“To think about having to do everything that we have to do for classes online in your house where there’s all the extra distractions and family stuff going on is definitely going to be an adjustment,” Gallaugher said. “There is part of me that believes it somehow might be harder because you’re not getting that personal teaching from a professor. I definitely think there’s going to be a new level of difficulty that I’ll have to adjust with and learn who I am as a student.”
Gallaugher plans to maintain her usual “in class” hours while completing online courses from home — and although she’s anticipating some difficulty in navigating online classes, she says she’s not scared of the coronavirus.
“I think that our country does an amazing job at taking the proper precautions, and I think that’s what the university is doing as well,” she said. “They’re putting students first and making sure that we’re healthy. I’m happy for safety and security and making sure that they are watching over students who are abroad or traveling back.”