The Pandemic Is Not Over at St. Mary's University
By: Sara Guerrero and Grace Ibarra, History majors at St. Mary's University
As the pandemic spread through our community, St. Mary's University adapted. Everyone on our campus has experienced significant changes in the last two years, as our university transitioned to an online format, for a year, before resuming in-person classes in the Fall of 2021. The university and its community have worked tirelessly to keep us all safe by distributing masks and setting up hand-sanitizing stations throughout campus, as well as placing signs reminding us that the pandemic is still ongoing and providing additional student support services. St. Mary's has changed in response to the pandemic as a result of these initiatives and is now better equipped to meet the needs of the Rattler population.
Changes Around Campus due to COVID
The attendance policies following students being sent home due to COVID-19 have changed each semester. These changes depended on both the new CDC regulations as well as the COVID risk level at the university. Campus officials had to make these difficult decisions, adapting as new guidance continually came from the CDC and other health agencies. Because attendance is one of the aspects used to measure how engaged the students are in class surprise, surprise, it was among the many things affected by COVID-19. From Zoom to In-Person, Virtual and Hybrid, Synchronous and Asynchronous, the ability to be truly present throughout the pandemic was difficult for most. St. Mary's attendance policies changed from allowing students the option of making up for a class by only doing the assigned tasks for that day to returning fully in-person with limited courses available online. These changes showed flexibility but also presented challenges as students and faculty had to constantly change and adapt.
Oral Histories: The Professor and Student Perspectives
Changes around the university, as a result of the pandemic, impacted everyone from students to professors. The pandemic interrupted our sense of community at St. Mary's. Despite meeting over a screen, the years of developing this community allowed students, instructors, and staff to keep connected. In these interviews, Dr. Ronis from the Theology Department, and two St. Mary's students discuss the university's response to the pandemic and how they adapted to the various classroom arrangements of the past two years.
Student Support Services
As the pandemic hit the St. Mary's community, it brought with it new hurdles that everyone had to overcome in order to find answers to new problems caused by the virus. Additional mental health and financial support were provided to the St. Mary's community, easing some of the stress brought on by the pandemic. These resources are still available as everyone has been on and off-campus for the past two years and will continue to be a helpful tool to those who feel burdened in any way.
Link to the St. Mary's University Pandemic Updates and Resources:
Physical Changes on Campus
In preparation for the return of students and staff on campus for this Fall semester of 2021, St. Mary’s had provided daily reminders for the community to be aware that the pandemic is still at play. Signs posted to wear your masks and new hand sanitizing stations have eased the fear of infections as we returned to in-class sessions. Also, new changes in business hours to on-campus facilities, since January of 2021, have been consistent as the year is ending. Updates on their website have helped students and staff stay up to date on new rules and habits that we can maintain to keep everyone healthy and safe.
St. Mary's University has been working diligently for almost two years to prevent coronavirus infections and had provided many resources for staff and students to feel unburdened while the pandemic is ongoing. Their response to the pandemic has utilized the recommendations by the CDC followed by those of the city of San Antonio. With this information, they were able to keep the community informed of COVID cases and provide the necessary tools as we continue to face the new challenges that the pandemic brings. While things are always changing, the feeling of community at St. Mary's never will. Our students, faculty, and staff will always work toward ensuring the best environment for each other.