#CoverYourFangs: Behind the Mask of a University During COVID

In Fall 2020, St. Mary's University students in Dr. Lindsey Passenger Wieck's Introduction to Public History classes set out to preserve the stories of our campus community during the pandemic. These graduate and undergraduate students added items to the JOTPY COVID-19 Archive and then told stories about these items in the exhibits that follow. In these exhibits, you'll find examples of the struggles faced by our campus community as well as the ways that students, faculty, and staff persevered in the face of these challenges. You'll see ways that our campus spaces have changed and the ways that our classes have changed with virtual learning.  In 2020, many of us have learned that we are stronger than we knew.  Supporting each other through tough times is the most important things our community can do.

#CoverYourFangs with Rattler Man

Rattler Man reminds us to #CoverYourFangs, which inspired the creation of this #CoverYourFangs archive.

Student-Curated Exhibits

Below is a list of exhibits curated by undergraduate and graduate students at St. Mary's University in Fall 2020. Another exhibit, "A Snapshot of COVID-19 and the Changing World" by graduate student Eddie Paniagua can be found here.

 

 

#CoverYourFangs Submissions

  • Zoom: Grad School in Quarantine

    This meme is a visual representation of the feelings of many online students this school year. Professors have been doing their best in a situation that was handled so improperly by those in charge. However, many students feel resentment for their universities due to a lack of accommodation in such a tumultuous time. Zoom learning was offered as an alternative to in person learning but no one could say that the two are equal in comparison. The fact that many universities are charging the same amount for both types of learning is not lost on students and adds to the frustration that online learners face during COVID19. Many wonder where their money is going and if the universities actually care about their students and staff. It's important to remember that all of us in grad school are struggling with the same things, being flexible and empathetic is so important, now more than ever.
  • Zaragoza Orientation Program

    This orientation program shows the different accommodations that have been made to ensure a safe experience during Zaragoza days. Prior to the pandemic, the events scheduled for students would be held in person so that students would have the opportunity to interact face to face and make new connections with other students. However, the Zaragoza days held in August 2021 integrated both in person and online orientation events. This program shows that some of the scheduled events were held on Zoom during different sessions. This was to ensure that students were provided with safe and easy access to learn more about being and undergrad at St. Mary's while not completely limiting their orientation experience by still holding in person events that adhered to Covid-19 guidelines.
  • Working Full Time as a Mother and Student During a Pandemic: Interview with Ashley Trayler

    The interview is with Ashley Trayler, a senior undergraduate student majoring in Criminal Justice and Psychology. Ashley is not only a student but a mother of a two-year-old named Adrian. In the interview, Ashley discusses her life before the pandemic, which involved taking care of her son and working full time at a call center. Once the pandemic hit, Ashley was impacted by job loss, facing financial obstacles, and being a college student transitioning to virtual school. Ashley has made many sacrifices to adapt to obstacles that have come her way caused by COVID-19, but she has remained strong by taking herself and prioritizing her health to be the best mother, student, and person she can be.
  • Work Studies Begin Working Remotely for Fall 2020

    When I got the email saying that as a work-study student at St. Mary's University I was going to be able to work from home for the semester I was extremely excited. Before the pandemic, we were only allowed to work in-person while on campus. In March all work-studies were told that they would not be able to work at home, so it was stressful waiting to hear if we were going to be allowed to work. Being able to still work on the projects that we are assigned during this pandemic is a nice escape from reality.
  • What Keeps Me Sane

    Between working in a grocery store, and doing class work, I find myself busy and often stressed. I am lucky enough to have a partner, two cats and other luxuries that help me relax and relieve my anxieties. I included an older picture of myself and my partner, my switch, and my cats Wobbles (grey) and Jade (black). Having these distractions in my life have definitely made the pandemic a little more manageable. These things, along with my partner, help me count my blessings and appreciate what I have and have been able to hold on to during these anxious and stressful times.
  • What is Zoom Fatigue and what it means for students

    This article gives some context as to what "zoom fatigue" or "tech fatigue" is. It's not something I've really considered before this year. My previous years of having mainly online classes, were still broken up by at least one or two in-person classes, along with the other distractions of going the store or visiting family, and doing something fun or interesting, without the anxiety of getting severely sick, or getting my loved ones sick. The article also includes some basic "how to fight tech fatigue" tips which I think could be useful, however, this type of advice can easily fall into the one-size-fits-all category. This needs to be avoided, because there is a wider range of diversity and accessibility, and for some people the "20,20,20" rule, simply doesn't work.
  • Voting During a Global Pandemic: A Student's Experience Voting in Person

    The object is an image of my family and I after voting and holding our “I voted” stickers. The eligible voters in my household are my mother, father, younger brother, and myself. After becoming very invested in politics, my youngest brother, who is eight, got a future voter sticker for coming along. Voting, in general, is a significant task, but this year, with the presidential election, mass amounts of people were expected to vote in person and with mail-in ballots. The pandemic heavily altered what an election usually looks like. Voting in person looked very different and had additional procedures to be cautious. When we entered immediately, we were given a hand sanitizer and a disposable glove to touch the voting machines and ballot. The room setup was different as areas to walk marked off, waiting in line to check-in required voters to wait for six-feet apart from each other. The floors were marked to show directions you could walk in. The voting machines were farther apart than usual to keep everyone at a distance. It was strange to experience a COVID-19 election, especially as this has been an anticipated election for a few years now. Last year I could never have imagined voting in a mask and being given a glove to keep the voting machines clean. This year is notable for the difficult circumstances of COVID-19 and a year focusing on the historic presidential election.
  • Visiting with Friends during the Pandemic

    My friend Victoria, has shared ways that she has been able to keep in touch with her friends during this time of quarantine, social distancing, and precaution. Victoria captioned this screenshot with: "Before COVID, I would hangout with my friends in person which was a good and fun stress reliever. However, now that we have to social distance, I FaceTime them which helps just as much" I, personally have also resulted in communicating with my friends via video chat calls. I usually try and schedule a time to call them where we can catch up and chat. I usually am not a huge video chat fan however, with COVID-19, I have become one. In order to minimize the spread of the virus and keep our families safe, most of my friends and I, have been relying solely on facetime calls to catch up. It's weird but it's definitely better than getting sick!
  • Virtually walk/run a 5K with St. Mary's University.

    This email shows even through the pandemic of COVID-19 St. Mary's is going to continue to try to keep annual events running. Virtually accommodating participants from every city, state and country to participate. Personally I think this event will allow the St. Mary’s community to show their pride, even through COVID-19 the Rattler nation is still staying connected. In addition, it allows our members to do some normal activities that we did before the pandemic. We are all quarantined and allowing us to walk/run/hike from your home is a great idea. As a member of the St. Mary's Community I received the email.
  • Virtual Black Box: How a University Drama Department Works around COVID

    An interview between a student of St. Mary's University who is involved with the university's Drama Department talks about the challenges of the recent school semester in the current circumstances and how the Department is working to overcome them and plans for the future. Interview conducted by myself.
  • Video Chat Birthday Celebration

    The pandemic disrupted the frequent trips I take to visit my friend Chrissie in California. We planned on celebrating her birthday together in person, but since we both lived in hot spots we decided it was best to postpone our festivities. I used some of the money I would have spent on traveling to buy her some very personalized gifts. When she received her presents I asked her to meet me on the Houseparty app so that I could see her reactions. They were priceless. I commissioned an artist friend to draw her beloved cat Dulce which I then printed on a poster. To add a Texas touch, I also got her a James Avery charm bracelet with an inside joke engraved on it. Even though I would have much rather hung out with Chrissie in person, this celebration was still special. Being away from made me think about how much I love and appreciate her. Quarantine allowed me the time to reflect on what makes her unique and what gifts would put a smile on her face.
  • Valeria Rodriguez's Virtual Freshman Experience

    In this interview Valeria Rodriguez shares about her experience as a St. Mary's University Freshman studying virtually from her home in Honduras. She highlights the ways in which she has overcome challenges and continues to look at the bright side of things. I believe that Valeria's perspective is powerful because her story shows her resilience and can inspire many other International students going through a similar situation.
  • Tweets from San Antono's mayor Ron Nirenberg throughout May, 2020

    These series of images are tweets from or about San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg and his administration's response to the COVID-19 crisis throughout the month of May. These images illustrate the way local government mobilized to disperse political, economic, and medical information through social media. Information in these images includes executive orders, public and private programs, COVID case statistics, updates on closures and reopenings, how to stay safe, and where to get tested for COVID.
  • Tweets from San Antonio's mayor Ron Nirenberg throughout March, 2020.

    These series of images are tweets from or about San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg and his administration's response throughout initial weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak & shutdown of San Antonio. These images illustrate the way local government mobilized to disperse political, economic, and medical information through social media. Information such as executive orders, public and private programs, case statistics during the first weeks of the COVD crisis, city closures, how to stay safe, and where to get tested for COVID.
  • Tweets from San Antonio's mayor Ron Nirenberg throughout June, 2020

    These series of images are tweets from or about San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg and his administration's response to COVID-19 and the social justice movement triggered by the murder of George Floyd throughout the month of June. These images illustrate the way local government mobilized to disperse political, economic, and medical information through social media. These also give insight into how the Mayor and his administration participated in the dialogue about systemic racism in San Antonio and across the United States. Information such as public and private programs, COVID-19 case statistics , protests, warnings to remain vigilant amid the reopening of the state, and where to get tested for COVID.
  • Tweets from San Antonio's mayor Ron Nirenberg throughout April, 2020

    These series of images are tweets from or about San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg and his administration's response throughout April 2020. These images illustrate the way local government mobilized to disperse political, economic, and medical information through social media. Information includes emergency orders, public and private assistance programs, case & hospital statistics, and where to get tested for COVID.
  • Tweets from San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg throughout July 2020

    These series of images are tweets from or about San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg and his administration's actions regarding the COVID-19 outbreak in San Antonio. Through tweets, the local government mobilized to disperse political, economic, and medical information. Information such as case statistics, social distancing warnings, how to stay safe, and where to get tested for COVID.
  • Triggering Tik Tok Sounds

    The sounds in this video are from about 7 months ago, March 2020. Relatively, it wasn’t that long ago. And for me and many others, it feels like a lifetime ago because so much has happened this year. Many of us have had to grieve the loss of loved ones or our lives before the “new normal”. There’s been so much uncertainty with COVID-19, the economy, the 2020 election, and even our plans for next week. I was really struck by all of the comments accompanied with this video. And it really interests me how we turn to particular habits or media to cope with loss, uncertainty, and trauma. I feel like Tik Tok is a significant facet of 2020, especially for young adults and teenagers.
  • Together we can protect St. Mary's University

    Together we can protect St. Mary's University! Signs like these are in place to remind students at St. Mary's University to remember the new COVID19 safety guidelines put in place to protect the university and the St. Mary's Community. The signs remind students to wear their masks, keep their social distance (about six feet), to wash their hands, to use hand sanitizing stations placed around campus for their health and safety, and to mind the direction they walk in public areas like dorm hallways or large public spaces.
  • Tío Pepe and COVID-19

    Throughout July and August of 2020, my family went through the loss of my great uncle on my dad’s side of the family. We all called him as tío Pepe. Tío Pepe was an essential male figure throughout my dad’s life, and the only one of my grandmother’s brothers (my father’s mom) to maintain a close relationship with us. My grandmother passed away suddenly in 2013; my father and his siblings were not prepared, and it is still a sore subject for all of us to comprehend. Tío Pepe was the bridge that connected me to my grandmother and her history. Tío Pepe shared the same mannerisms, physical features, and life philosophies as her. My tío Pepe really helped my father’s family adapt to living in the United States after they moved from Laredo, Mexico in the mid-1970s. When he passed, the pain cut through generational experiences. It felt like a piece of me that was so deeply rooted, that I could not quite grasp because I was still trying to figure it out, was ripped away. Tío Pepe was in his 70s, so it’s not like he had an exceptional amount of time with us, but we thought it was enough. He was cognizant, independent, intelligent, and showed me new perspectives every time we talked. Losing him was like losing a vital source of my memory, my optimism, and my faith. This is a little insight into what it’s like to mourn the death of loved one due to COVID-19. I’ve formatted this entry as a loose timeline to capture the dragged-out period of fear, uncertainty, doubt, and mourning. This experience cast a haze onto my family as we tried to navigate an unnavigable disease and global situation. We couldn’t make sense of it all; we couldn’t carry out our customary responses to a death in the family which left us feeling powerless. Personally, it made me feel like I was almost drowning. I felt like I was barely making it over the water to take brief puffs of air, but I was never comfortable nor safe. It was long, painful, and empty. While this process tested our individual emotional strength and optimism, it never weakened our ability to unite as a family. If anything, this experience fortified our family bond. July 4, 2020 – The mayor and city government sent out several warnings against celebrating the holiday in large groups. I was spending the evening with my parents, brother, and his family when my mom received a text message from a cousin of ours describing how tío Pepe’s daughter, Beth, had tested positive for the coronavirus. Her children and boyfriend also tested positive, and that my tío Pepe and my tía (his wife) were awaiting any symptoms. July 10, 2020 – We got the news that an ambulance would be taking my tío Pepe to the hospital. At this time, San Antonio was going through its second major spike in cases, with less and less medical supplies available for incoming patients. My family opted for an ambulance just so tío Pepe would have a better chance at getting a hospital bed and being treated quickly. July 12 – July 18, 2020, tío Pepe’s first week in the hospital: He was unconscious, on a respirator, and kind of keeping steady. We hung on to the ‘no news is good news’ mantra, remaining optimistic, and continued to live our lives. We really did not think this disease would touch our family in any serious way. On July 17, 2020: I officially canceled my gym membership. I was one of the selfish individuals impatiently waiting for, and incredibly excited by, the announcement that gyms would reopen earlier that summer. I frequented the gym almost every day. I was aware that the risk of COVID-19 was rather high at fitness gyms, but I thought nothing could touch me because I’m young, and I was desperate for some normalcy. And, while if I had contracted the disease my symptoms may not have been severe, tío Pepe’s hospitalization made me realize that I could have lived with the disease and infected someone like my tío and forced them to endure unimaginable pain. I canceled my membership because the reality of COVID finally hit me. It’s sad that it took my tío suffering for me to understand. July 13 – July 17, 2020: We received news that tío Pepe had woken up from his induced state and pulled out all of the breathing tubes connected to his face, which threw a wrench into the progress he was making. The doctors decided to try to inject him with plasma from individuals who had already recovered from the virus and built up antibodies. The treatment seemed to be going well, and again, we remained optimistic. July 20 – July 24, 2020, the week of his death: On July 20, a Monday, my cousin Gabby called my parents to let us know that tío Pepe’s health had taken a swift turn downward. Tío Pepe’s organs had gotten infected. Every day leading up to his death ended with a phone call update, further informing us of his degrading state. Gabby earned her master’s degree in Public Health; she knew exactly what to ask the doctors and what their responses meant behind the cushioned language. I knew that Gabby was further sugar coating these messages to her parents and mine. I texted her separately asking her to tell it to me straight. She informed me that things were not looking good at all. She told me not to keep my hopes up. It was cold, but it was the most honest and reliable set of news I had gotten throughout tío Pepe’s time in the hospital. For four days, we were all hanging onto our phones for the next call or text message update. It was quiet; the uncertainty lingered and distracted me from everything. Tío Pepe passed away Thursday morning July 23, 2020. I had been working as a research assistant for St. Mary’s University throughout the summer. My mother received a phone call from my dad with the news while I was in the middle of conducting an oral history for the research project. My mom cracked open the door to my room but quickly realized that I was still on Zoom and walked away. As soon as I heard my door open I knew exactly what happened. I carried on with the rest of the oral history, closed out my work for the day, and kept to myself. When I clocked out I emailed my supervisors of the situation. I hadn’t told them when he initially contracted the disease, nor the roller coaster of updates throughout his time there. My supervisors were very understanding, and I took the next couple of days to myself. I went for a rather long run that afternoon to clear my mind. I came home, showered, and tried to distract myself by watching baseball with my parents. My dad came home and hugged us, also acting as if everything was no big deal. My dad frequently shared music with tío Pepe to let each other know that they were thinking about each other. From my point of view, I think this was a way for tío Pepe to check up on his nephew and remind him to keep his head up. My dad had put his phone to charge and began talking to us in the living room. I got up to go to the kitchen and passed by his phone, which was locked. When I passed by, his Pandora started playing “Lead Me Home” by Jamey Johnson. This happened completely by itself; I did not touch it and my dad was in the other room. Here’s a snippet of the song: I have seen my last tomorrow I am holding my last breath Goodbye, sweet world of sorrow My new life, begins with death I am standing on the mountain I can hear the angel’s songs I am reaching over Jordon Take my hand, Lord lead me home All my burdens, are behind me I have prayed, my final pray Don't you cry, over my body Cause that ain't me, lying there No, I am standing on the mountain I can hear the angels’ songs I am reaching over Jordon Take my hand, Lord lead me home I am standing (Lord, I am standing) on the mountain (on the mountain) I can hear (I can hear the angels songs) the angels songs I am reaching over Jordon, (over Jordon) Take my hand, Lord lead me home Take my hand, Lord lead me home We all started crying uncontrollably. We felt like my tío Pepe was letting us know that he was okay and that he’s still thinking about us. July 27, 2020: My sister in-law and I were looking for a way to comfort tío Pepe’s daughter, Beth, and his wife. My sister in-law thought shadow boxes with photos of tío Pepe, decorated with cardstock flowers, and a sweet message would be a way for us to honor his memory and share in his family’s grieving process. On the box we made for Beth, the message reads “Dad, Grandpa, Best Friend;” on the box we made for his wife the message reads “Amor Eterno” (eternal love). The shadow boxes took us pretty much all day to make—completely worth it. We spent the evening telling stories about my tío Pepe and just spending quality family time together. The shadow boxes are pictured in this post. We used pictures from Beth’s Facebook. Tío Pepe was also very active on Facebook, which was kind of surprising for his age. He was very politically active and critical of our public institutions. According to my dad, tío Pepe has always kept up with current events and sympathized with the Chicano Movement; he was pretty about it, if you know what I mean. The last time he reached out to me on the social media platform was to commemorate our “friendiversary.” That was also the last time I engaged in one-on-one communication with him, which really shreds me up inside. He reached out because he knew that I was stuck at home working and attending grad school. He was always thinking of everyone and our individual challenges, reminding us to keep going. The shadow boxes were a surprise to Beth and her mom. I’ve included the screenshot of our brief conversation shortly after dropping them off. It hurt that I couldn’t get off and hug her. I saw that the just looking at the boxes invoked so much emotion in Beth. August 7, 2020, the funeral service: Our family had to wait two weeks before tío Pepe’s body could be released from the hospital. Throughout those two weeks it felt like I was floating. When you mourn a death time just stops for a couple of days; everything is really out of its element. But mourning a COVID death, having to wait to properly give your loved one a respectful service and not being able to fall into the arms of your relatives, prolonged this motionless feeling. If felt like a comet was slowly crashing into my core; I could feel every bit of my earth tear apart and float away. The service was set up like a drive-in movie. The funeral home had a screen outside of the building, a radio station to air the service, and a livestream on their website. We all drove up to the screen and either tuned in or played the livestream to listen. We had the choice to experience the service inside the building with tío Pepe’s daughter, wife, and grandchildren. However, they all had just gotten over COVID-19 so most of us stayed in our cars. I didn’t think the service would hit me as hard because of the physical distance and technological filter. My family is Catholic, I grew up Catholic, but I haven’t been the most devout member of the church. My tío Pepe lived one street over from the church we all grew up with. By “we” I mean three generations of my family. The deacon who led the service has known my family for at least 20 years. To sum up what I’m getting at, our church and Catholic culture is deeply rooted our family history. The service reduced us all to our childhood; we felt vulnerable. I remember every single prayer and recited all of them word-for-word, English and Spanish. The last time I had recited these prayers was for my grandmother’s funeral. Except this time, I had to go through these emotions on my own. It felt like someone was shooting thumbtacks at me, through me. Tío Pepe’s wife, daughter, grandson, and sister each wrote a few words on behalf of tío Pepe. I don’t know which set of words hurt the most. They all spoke from the heart; they were so raw and resonated so deeply with all of us. I wanted so badly to hug everyone. I was so incredibly mad that we were all put in that situation, to have to have our hearts pulled and constricted at the same time. Tío Pepe’s grandson, Joseph, and his girlfriend are expecting their first baby; tío Pepe would have been a great grandfather. Joseph spent a lot of time with tío Pepe, almost every single day, and he really embodies his pensive, mild nature. His words were strong and grounding. One thing Joseph said that I think really describes how tío Pepe carried himself is, “My grandpa always reminded me to do the right thing.” Tío Pepe treated everything and every situation with a level mind and fairness. No family, no honest and responsible person should have had to experience such ungraspable pain that never really seems to heal. To this day, my family has not physically come together to fill in the gaps in our hearts that this experience left behind. Late August, a virtual birthday commemoration: A couple of weeks after his funeral, tío Pepe would have turned 71. Gabby, the recent Public Health graduate, decided to make my tío Pepe’s favorite cake and offered one to each household. She scheduled a Zoom meeting for all of us to sit, talk, eat, and cry. My dad and the older relatives in my family brought out old photos of from their early years living in the United States. We each shared our favorite memory of tío Pepe. Here’s mine: before I went off to college Tío Pepe told my dad not to worry about me because he sees me as a ‘visionary.’ He reassured my dad and I that I have a good head on my shoulders, that I’m independent, and that if I really put my mind to it I could do anything. That was the first time anyone had given me words of encouragement going into adulthood—or really treated me like an adult. I snapped a picture of my dad talking to our tía Elda (Tío Pepe’s sister) about life in Mexico and the little arguments they’d get into as my dad was growing up. Although we were separated by a screen, this sort of companionship really helped us reconnect. I chose to include this story for this archive to humanize the broader health and historical context of the pandemic. This was both the easiest and hardest thing for me to create for this archive. The easiest because I was able to let the words flow out of my heart and be typed onto a word document; the hardest because I’ve realized just how ripe these feelings and memories still are for me. My emotions and memories of late July and early August have not fully healed. It’s been hard to accept someone’s death without physical closure. There were no last goodbyes, no hugs, no close contact of any kind to seal the wound in our hearts. I’m still longing to physically embrace my family; but for them I’d wait as long as I have to in order to do that safely. I write this as another way to connect with them. To share my deep feelings and let them know that they’re not the only ones who have felt or are feeling this way. Real people, real families exist within the news stories, academic articles, and everchanging statistics. Tío Pepe was much more than a statistic; my family is much more than a statistic.
  • Through Their Eyes: The COVID Freshmen Experience

    St. Mary’s University (a liberal arts college) is filled with students struggling to find a balance between a new online learning environment and the pandemic, and there is a group of students who in particular have had a hard time. The freshmen of St. Mary’s is this group. This interview tells the experience of a freshman, and how she is handling this unique college experience.
  • Through Their Eyes: Freshmen Study Habits

    The freshmen experience has changed tremendously because of COVID-19, and this has forced the majority of them to adapt and change their routines in this new online learning environment. Attached is an interview with a St.Mary’s freshman’s experience as an online student, and how she has adapted to her environment in order to be successful in college during a pandemic.
  • The Zaragoza Project: A Covid Experience

    For this item, I wanted to highlight the differences in the Zaragoza student orientation for incoming freshmen and transfer students. This is a program that happens at the beginning of every school year. My class, entering St. Mary's in Fall 2019 was the last class to have a normal experience prior to the pandemic. However, since the pandemic, many operations have had to change to ensure the safety of those involved. The Fall 2020 Zaragoza experience was entirely over zoom. With the school now transitioning back to in person teaching, Zaragoza leaders had to the opportunity and challenge to create a Zaragoza experience like never seen before that provided safe interaction among all students and parents. These screenshots specifically showed a rushed project that needed to be approved in a short amount of time that accommodated both to the universities expectations while following the state's guidelines.
  • The Virtual Zaragoza Experience [DUPLICATE]

    The screenshot is the 2020 St. Mary's university Zaragoza itinerary. Before coming to St. Mary's, I was told all about the Zaragoza experience, and how it is an extremely important part of the St. Mary's experience. It's a time where freshmen are finally introduced into the St. Mary's family right before school starts. Unfortunately, 2020 freshmen had a very different experience. Our entire Zaragoza was online, and I am very thankful for the Zaragoza leaders' efforts through the event; however, it really wasn't the same as a real Zaragoza. It felt like I wasn't really there, and that I wasn't really a true St. Mary's freshmen. At least, not while I was not on campus. Overall, I appreciate St. Mary's efforts since it wasn't their fault at all. This year's Zaragoza was just collateral damage as we move into this new reality of Covid and its impact on freshmen.
  • The Virtual Zaragoza Experience

    The screenshot is the 2020 St. Mary's university Zaragoza itinerary. Before coming to St. Mary's, I was told all about the Zaragoza experience, and how it is an extremely important part of the St. Mary's experience. It's a time where freshmen are finally introduced into the St. Mary's family right before school starts. Unfortunately, 2020 freshmen had a very different experience. Our entire Zaragoza was online, and I am very thankful for the Zaragoza leaders' efforts through the event; however, it really wasn't the same as a real Zaragoza. It felt like I wasn't really there, and that I wasn't really a true St. Mary's freshmen. At least, not while I was not on campus. Overall, I appreciate St. Mary's efforts since it wasn't their fault at all. This year's Zaragoza was just collateral damage as we move into this new reality of Covid and its impact on freshmen.
  • The Use Of A Commuting Students Vehicle

    A vehicle was how a commuting student got to and from school. I loved driving to school it gave me and opportunity to reflect on my day and go over any activities I need to do during the day and just listen to music. During this pandemic I can not do any of those activities. All classes are online so there is no need to drive my car and it just sits in my driveway. Driving was an everyday thing for everyone and since quarantine I have gone days without driving. However, I didn't not mind not having to pay for gas as often. This is the only plus side I see from not being able to drive during the pandemic.
  • The Struggles Of Small Businesses During Covid-19

    During the coronavirus pandemic, financial inclusion is more critical than ever. Small businesses are vulnerable to the health and economic impact of this global pandemic. They are less likely to have access to quality and affordable health care and paid leave to care for sick family members or themselves. Without appropriate savings, credit, and insurance it will be hard for them to weather the storm and deal with business disruptions and maintain a stable livelihood. Small businesses are at the heart of America's economy but hundreds of thousands of them have been pushed to the brink of failure due to Covid-19. I live on the southside of San Antonio and here there are multiple small businesses that I see everyday. Recently, I see signs in front of businesses that speak to me and worry about the families it is going to affect with the closure of the business. Since the pandemic most businesses do not have the cash flow for three months of expenses.
  • The RattlerBand returning for the Fall 2020 Semester

    A series of emails from the university president explaining university policies for the upcoming fall 2020 semester. What is significant about these emails is how it demonstrates the university and the music department’s steps to try and maintain the ability to hold in-person events on campus when COVID was at its height in 2020.
  • The RattlerBand and Online Rehearsal

    This is a series of emails between the music department head and St. Mary’s residence life discussing a way for band members living on campus to practice their instruments without disturbing other residents. These emails are significant as it demonstrates the lengths the music department was working to find ways for band members to continue regularly practicing their instrument even in the midst of COVID.
  • The RattlerBand and Instrument Coverings

    This is a set of emails containing information regarding the ordering of instrument coverings for the band in the late Fall 2020 semester. These instrument coverings were intended to be used to minimize the risk of COVID transmissions during outdoor in-person rehearsals that were to begin shortly after their arrival. They represent some of the steps taken by the band to protect students as they worked to facilitate a more normal style of band rehearsal.
  • The Rattler Late Night Pizza Breaks

    This image was taken during The Rattler's first press weekend. Due to COVID-19 restrictions there is a no eating in the newsroom policy, and so staff now must eat outside in the hallway and maintain social distancing. This scene is typical of a late Saturday night (closer to midnight) as the staff is working to finish the upcoming paper, although now this gathering must take place in the hallway. The staff stays 6 feet apart to eat and due to only a set number of people being allowed in the newsroom at any given time some have taken camp out in the hallway to work "remotely" but still able to communicate quickly with the rest of the staff.
  • The Quest to Find the Perfect Mask

    The photos show my friend Jacob who tried out a variety of masks to suit his personality. He is very crafty and likes to customize everything he possibly can. Unsatisfied with the poor quality of disposable masks, he made a very unattractive mask out of an old t-shirt. Although he liked the way the mask hugged his ear, the thickness of the fabric made it difficult for him to breathe. Jacob eventually sewed his own mask much to his wife’s chagrin. He was pleased that it provided enough coverage over 60% of his face, and that he figured out a way to make the straps adjustable.
  • The Official Cancelation of Our Flight

    Each of the members of the flight to Guayaquil, Ecuador, was deeply connected with the purpose of traveling which was to be present with the neighbors in Ecuador. Some of us thought that the main purpose of the course, Empower: Ecuador, was to travel. To some extent it was, but after the trip cancelation, we realized there was also another greater purpose. The greater purpose was to grow in vulnerability, spirituality, and in self-reflection. To learn how to be vulnerable with others and share your journey in life and understand how God was working through all the messiness was really hard, but through this course, it happened. The trip cancelation was very sad but because of it, we learned how to be connected despite the distance. Letters were sent from us to each of the neighbors in Ecuador, zoom meetings were held with the team in different ways, and journals were written with our most inner thoughts and reflections. Additional to this, each of us got a voucher to travel for the rest of the year, which in my case I used to travel to see my loved ones in Puerto Rico and Arizona. Seeing my loved ones probably wouldn't have happened if it was not for this voucher and I was very grateful for it. Yes, it was bad that our trip was canceled but many blessings came out of this. During COVID-19 many bad things happened and are happening, however, many blessings and good things also happened and are happening. I think it is very important to also share those good things to motivate others and push each other up out of all the darkness. To express this story I am sharing a screenshot of an email that confirmed the trip cancelation and that also announced to us that we were going to have a voucher to travel. The email was from our leader Clare.
  • The New Normal: A Virtual Graduation

    As a graduating senior, this email was sent to me by the Provost Office to notify me that this semester's graduation will be virtual. Ever since my freshman year of college, the idea of walking across the stage at my graduation always inspired me to try my best in all of my courses. My hard work and dedication was geared towards this big moment. While it is admirable that St. Mary's is still looking at ways to celebrate their student's accomplishments in the safest way possible, it is still difficult to process that I'll be walking across my living room instead of a graduation stage.
  • The Mental Pandemic

    The pandemic was difficult in more ways than one. Health and safety were covered by all news stations, but the deeper hidden pandemic was the struggle of mental health and staying mentally healthy during isolation and lockdown. These screenshots showcase that mental health was an important topic that people were struggling with but the university tried to give help to students and staff that were struggling. This screenshot is important to me because they were resources I utilized that helped me mentally go through the pandemic and I believe deserve more attention.
  • The Little Things

    The pandemic hit and many new college students were forced to enjoy their admission celebrations from their homes through their computer screen and Zoom. Still, St. Mary's University pushed forward to make this event memorable and celebrate future incoming Rattlers to their new school. This screenshot is a still shot of the emotions and celebrations early freshmen experienced during the pandemic. Being accepted into university is no small thing, but a Zoom celebration is a small gesture of congratulations that feels very big.
  • The Hobbies We Have Used to Get Through Covid-19

    I chose this painting, because it is symbolic of one of the many hobbies I developed in order to get through this pandemic and social distancing through the past few months. Many people have picked up new hobbies in order to distract themselves or learn something that they have always wanted to do. I chose paint-by-numbers, because I have always loved painting, but I have never been very good at it. So, I chose the next best thing: paint-by-numbers. Everyone has different tastes and coping mechanisms. I thought it would be interesting to catalog the different hobbies that people have picked up in order to cope or distract themselves with from the pandemic
  • THE HIGHER RISK GROUPS

    This is new information dated November of this year updating the list of groups at higher risk for Covid-19. It is important to me because I am a member of a high risk group and virus prevention is important to me.
  • The Healing Power of Music

    My friend Sarah who currently lives as St. Mary's University sent me pictures of the way she gets through her anxiety which is with music. The pictures that she provided show that the Healing Power of Music is a way to escape all the chaos that is happening in our lives around us. This shows when there is no where else to turn music always seem to have your back by providing comfort.
  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act Helps Employees Everywhere

    On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). This act provided additional flexibility for state unemployment insurance agencies and funding to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. This act requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons that relate to Covid-19. To receive these unemployment insurance benefits, you need to file a claim with the unemployment insurance program in the state you work. Employees everywhere are put on sick leave everyday due to coronavirus. This act gives them more support and sanity to help them in their day to day lives whether it is to help support family or pay expenses.
  • The Clonky Helmet

    I personally worked as a COVID 19 screener for South Texas Veterans Affairs. During that time we as COVID screeners were required to wear face shields and masks on our face for more than eight hours a day. After reading the article I posted from the CDC -- it now does not seem like it was a requirement at all for health workers to wear the face shields. I preferred to the ones much lighter. They were also face shields, but they were not in a shape of a helmet, they were lighter, and easier to handle as we screeners went from one job station to another. During the pandemic, while employed as a COVID 19 screener-- if we were caught without wearing the helmet (face shield) our jobs were threatened. We were only allowed to take the face shields off intermittently for example. while at lunch.
  • The Challenges of Caring for Children and Working at Home

    I have been working from home and caring for both of my kids with my spouse since March. It is challenging and chaotic, but also it brings a lot of joys in watching kids develop. Teaching at the university level has also brought its challenges and joys, but I hope that by making my own struggles visible, it makes me more relatable to students.
  • Sweet Treats during COVID-19

    My friend Maddie sent me this selfie of her getting some churros during quarentine. We used to always go get churro's together but many places have been closed. She found a food truck that sells churro's and she decided to go get it as it requires minimal contact with people and allows for social distancing! Like me, she uses food (specifically sweets) to help with stress and anxiety! She described the change during COVID, "Before COVID one of my coping mechanisms for when I’m stressed was to go get something sweet to eat. But I had to adjust that, and now I get something sweet to-go and sit in my car while I listen to music."
  • Sweet Treats

    My friend Maddie sent me this selfie of her getting some churros during quarantine. We used to always go get churro's together but many places have been closed. She found a food truck that sells churro's and she decided to go get it as it requires minimal contact with people and allows for social distancing! Like me, she uses food (specifically sweets) to help with stress and anxiety! She described the change during COVID, "Before COVID one of my coping mechanisms for when I’m stressed was to go get something sweet to eat. But I had to adjust that, and now I get something sweet to-go and sit in my car while I listen to music."
  • Support during the pandemic

    This photo shows support that was available during the pandemic for those who were needing that extra support or developing coping skills. I'm sure it was a great feeling to know that these services were available for those who were needing this extra support during COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Summer College Programming During the Pandemic

    The post is a screenshot from the annual McNair Scholars Program Research Symposium from the summer. The screenshot captures students and faculty from the program before they began their presentations over zoom. The McNair Scholars program prepares underrepresented students for graduate school. Students have a faculty mentor who advises them on a research project during the summer, where they write a paper, prepare for graduate school applications, and then later present the research at the annual research symposium. Usually, the program takes place on the St. Mary’s University campus, and students are provided campus resources such as housing and meal plans. They can meet with faculty and peers in person. Due to COVID-19, the program had to be completely virtual; every program meeting utilized zoom. The McNair Scholars summer research program is one example of college activities that had to adapt to the changing world with COVID-19. Although students were still able to meet virtually and present research, there were limitations to not being on campus, such as what research you could conduct and the resources and accessibility of having workspaces on campuses as many students were working at home. The picture also represents the new normal of large gatherings, especially for academic spaces. All of our classes resemble this image now.
  • Studying Abroad During the Pandemic & Feelings of Uncertainty

    This is an email I sent St. Mary's study abroad coordinator, Raquel, at the end of February while I was studying abroad in Alcalá de Henares, Spain. Cases were increasing in surrounding cities and I was beginning to worry. Students from my international program at the Universidad de Alcalá were being sent home and I was unsure of what my options were at the time. Nobody knew how serious and widespread Coronavirus would become, but I feel grateful that I listened to my intuition and came home on March 12th before Trump decided to close the borders on March 13th. This experience is unforgettable to me and many others who were abroad at this time.
  • Student, Instructor, Soldier: Leaving to Help With the COVID-19 Pandemic

    During Spring of 2020, I was wearing many hats. I was a 1st Lieutenant in the Texas Army National Guard, a husband, a father of two girls, a PhD student, a research assistant for the department chair of the Texas A&M Anthropology Department, and an Anthropology Instructor at Blinn College. Everything changed on April 17th, 2020 when I was activated with the National Guard on 45 day orders starting at 0800 on April 18th. I packed my bags, told my kids and wife goodbye, and sent emails to my supervisors at Blinn College and Texas A&M University. Two of the emails featured here are the emails that I sent to my supervisors. My orders were initially for 45 days but were later extended to 93 days in total. I sent updates to my supervisors as I learned new information. One update email to Dr. De Ruiter at Texas A&M University is featured in this email collection as well. This is my third activation with the National Guard in the past three years. I have been called to floods, hurricanes, and now a pandemic. Serving the people of the State of Texas is never boring, but it can be difficult on the family and jobs that I leave behind. I hope these emails speak to that struggle.
  • Student reaches out to Professor asking to take Fall 2020 course remotely

    When the Fall 2020 course schedule was announced at St. Mary's I ran to see what type of classes I was going to have. There were 3 options either online, virtual, or a combination of virtual/in-person. My course with Dr. Root was scheduled to be a combination class. I had a lot of fear about going back to campus and especially going to class in-person. I reached out to Dr. Root with the hope that he would allow staying full virtual. Thankfully he was understanding of my situation. This email is the conversation that we had over the situation Screenshot of an email by Dr. Root
  • Student Dorm Closures: Impact on Students

    COVID-19 caused St. Mary's University to shut down rapidly on campus after spring break. Most students didn't return after spring break, and had to make later plans to return to get their personal items (including clothes, textbooks, and other items that they may have urgently needed). Some students, who didn't have a place to return to, worked with St. Mary's residence life to make arrangements to remain in the dorms. Students who stayed faced a unique set of challenges and uncertainty with what lay ahead. Combined degree student (undergraduate and graduate) Glory Turnbull, a resident in on campus housing, reflects in this oral history on what these rapid closures of campus meant to them.
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