A Day in the Life at StMU During a Global Pandemic

An exhibit by Kristine Gonzales , Blake Hatt, and Christopher Hohman

Life on campus at St. Mary's University has drastically changed since the onset of COVID-19. Located in San Antonio, Texas, St. Mary's University has a diverse group of students. Many of these changes made at St. Mary's University have changed the lives of different groups on campus allowing the community to still enjoy what St. Mary's has to offer while keeping them safe. While COVID-19 is not over and no adjustments are perfect, this is the story of how St. Mary's University has managed this global pandemic. 

Athletes and Recreation Spaces

St. Mary's University (StMU) is the home of 12 NCAA Division II Varsity teams including baseball, softball, men's and women's soccer, basketball, golf, tennis, E-Sports and women's volleyball. Athletes make up a large percentage of students at St. Mary's compared to larger schools and play a large role in the community at St. Mary's. From new routes through buildings, restricted access to certain amenities and the requirement to make an appointment to use the building, StMU has worked to keep their community safe while trying to maintain a sense of normalcy in the fitness regimes of their students, faculty and staff. 

 

A New Entrance to the Realm of Recreation

Photograph of the entrance to the Athletics and Recreation building. Complete with plexiglass, thermometers and signs to remind people of mask requirements on campus.

A revamped entrance to the Athletics and Recreation building at St. Mary's. To enter the building, you must first make an appointment online. When the building first reopened it was rather difficult to acquire an appointment for a time that worked for you. Since then, more spots have opened and people have fallen into their weekly routines making the space more accessible. Upon entering you will be greeted by the familiar faces of the recreation staff and asked to present your StMU ID and your temperature will be taken. If you're wearing a mask and your temperature is within normal range, you will be granted entrance. If your temperature is out of range you will be asked to wait outside for a few minutes before trying again. If your temperature is still out of range, then you will be asked to leave the facility. 

St. Mary's University has included some new measures to keep athletes and patrons safe while using the recreation spaces including a change in available routes through buildings, restricted water fountain access and new sanitization methods. This allows athletes and patrons to follow their past daily habits as closely as possible while also keeping their health and the health of others in mind! During a time of so much change many people find comfort in knowing that they can still participate in the things they love. 

Socially Distanced Sports Performance

One of the ways that the Sports Performance staff at StMU has allowed athletes to train as a team is by setting up workout equipment outdoors. 

Adjustments to How Athletes Warm-Up

In order for athletes to be able to train indoors, social distancing protocols must be followed. To do so the Sports Performance staff got creative with their training sessions. 

StMU Athletic Training Team Oral History

The St. Mary's University's Athletic Trainer team speaks on the changes they have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and how their lives and the lives of athletes have changed. 

The Sports Performance and the Athletic Trainer Staff at St. Mary's University have had to make changes to ensure that the student athletes are able to train to stay healthy and to perform the best they can for their upcoming season while also respecting COVID-19 protocols put in place by the university. Changing their schedules, ensuring athletes are spaced out and using all the facilities available to them are just a few of these changes. 

While the athletics and recreations department have made large strides to ensure the safety of students, staff and faculty members, the academic spaces and teaching methods that professors deploy have changed as well.

The Fall 2020 Semester: A Life of Adaptation and Change for Students and Professors at St. Mary's University

 

This semester has brought sweeping changes to life at St. Mary's University for both students and professors alike. Everything from class to campus life has changed significantly. We have new COVID-19 guidelines and new class formats that students and professors must adapt to in order to keep our campus and community safe. Below are just a few items demonstrating how life has changed for the St. Mary's Community, in particular the students, during this difficult year. The new changes include socially distanced seating, new class formats, and new COVID-19 guidelines described on posters placed around campus. 

 

Together we can protect St. Mary's University

Signs around St. Mary's University remind students of new COVID-19 guidelines

Fall 2020 Course Format Options for Students at St. Mary’s University

 St. Mary's University offered a selection of new formats for Fall 2020.

Together we can protect St. Mary's University

 Signs found around St. Mary's University's campus remind students of COVID-19 guidelines.

Inside an In-Person Virtual classroom

These pictures offer a glimpse into an in-person classroom from the Fall 2020 semester.

Adapting the DiamondBack Café on campus

These photos offer a glimpse inside St. Mary's socially distanced DiamondBack Cafe.

These items offer glances into life at St. Mary's University during the COVID19 pandemic as a resident student. Through these items one can peer into the socially distanced DiamondBack Cafe, imagine what it is like to attend an In-Person Virtual class, or to enjoy a walk around campus. 

 

A Life of Adaptation and Change for Students and Professors: The Oral Histories

 

Life at St. Mary's University has certainly been different for students and professors. In the two oral histories below, Professor Mona Lopez and student Chris Vazquez share their thoughts about how their lives have changed as a result of the pandemic. In particular Professor Lopez spoke about the challenges of adapting her teaching style for virtual learning while Chris Vazquez spoke about the challenges of being a student in virtual courses and about the changes to campus life this semester because of the pandemic. These two oral histories offer unique perspectives into how life has changed for students and professors this semester. 

 

Oral History Interview with student Chris Vazquez at St. Mary's University

Student and R.A. Chris Vazquez, offers his perspective on the challenges of virtual learning and on how campus life has changed.

Oral History Interview with Professor Mona Lopez of St. Mary's University

Professor Mona Lopez offers her perspective on the challenges and opportunities offered by virtual learning.

Library Changes and Experiences during a Pandemic

 

Like the rest of St. Mary's University, the Blume Academic Library had to adapt to keep campus running and its community safe. When the city of San Antonio enacted a Stay-at-Home order, the university made the decision to send employees capable of working remotely home. Once the Fall semester began, St. Mary's made physical changes to reduce traffic within the building as well as maintain protected distances so student assistants could continue to perform their duties. These changes dramatically shifted the look of campus, and the St. Mary’s experience. The university communicated these changes via email to keep the community informed during a pandemic.  

Shelter-in-Place University Email

St. Mary's University urged its community to follow the City of San Antonio's shelter-in-place directions, allowing all non-essential personnel to continue working from remote locations. 

Extending Telework Email

Following Bexar County's Stay Home, Work Safe order faculty and staff are informed that the telework program would be extended in order to minimize campus density. 

While students adjusted to modified schedules and environments, so did St. Mary's staff. For some working from home would have challenges that would extend beyond their job duties and into their personal lives. Cynthia Lopez and Louis Cortez share some of their experiences, both personal and professional, of living in a pandemic world.

Luis Cortez Interview

Business Manager for Library and Technical Services shares his experience adapting his position to work remotely .

Cynthia Lopez Interview, St. Mary's University Employee

Cynthia Lopez, the Acquisitions Clerk at the Blume Library, was part of the group that transitioned to remote work in March of 2020. 

One of the most popular destinations in the Blume Library is the Starbucks located in the Cotrell Learning Commons. In an effort to reduce the amount of foot traffic within the building, a walk-up window was added. Along with that addition to the physical building, picnic tables were placed all over campus. Social distancing is one of the best ways to keep the community safe and the addition of these tables offers seating options while being distanced and still remain near essential buildings.

Circulation Changes

Plexiglass is used to maintain a barrier between employees and library guests. Masks are required while inside the library and hand sanitizer is located at each entrance and interaction area.

Modification to Library

One of the permanent changes on campus is the addition of a walk-up window to the Starbucks located on the first floor of the Blume Library.

Campus Adds Socially Distanced Seating

The campus community can safely stay located near essential buildings while maintaining social distance regulations. 

Library staff continue to make the changes necessary in order to best serve the campus community. This pandemic has not come without its challenges and even with these changes and adaptations, campus has managed to remain open while keeping the number of cases low and keeping the community informed.  As of November 13, 2020 St. Mary's began offering free COVID19 testing to staff and students. 

Campus Offers Free COVID-19 Testing

With the semester coming to an end and resident students returning home, St. Mary's offers COVID19 testing and encourages staff and students to make appointments. 

Conclusion

During this time of uncertainty and confusion that is the COVID-19 pandemic it is reassuring to know that there are institutions that are still doing their best to help their students, faculty and staff stay safe while trying to continue forward with the goals that they had put in place to achieve. Finding the balance point between creating a safe environment and maintaining a sense of normalcy may be one of the great struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic and is something that we must continue to grapple with as a community. St. Mary's University has demonstrated that they however are up for the challenge and will continue to fight through this adversity to try to do right by their community members. 
Prev Next