by Maggie Westerman | Staff Writer

SCRANTON – When the University of Scranton announced a two-week pause beginning on Sept. 16, students began gearing up for the shift to online learning. For many students, however, remote learning was already all too familiar.

According to the University’s Health and Safety email from Sept. 7, 260 students had been in quarantine from Aug. 31 to Sept. 6. These students had already begun or completed some form of remote learning. For some, there was a break between their quarantine and the switch to online learning. But for others, there was no chance to get back to class for at least another two weeks.

Senior Bridget Pynn never got the chance to return to her classes that were still in person before the pause began. Pynn and her roommates were due to get out of quarantine on Sept. 17, the day after the two-week remote learning period began. She said the continuation of online learning was not difficult for her.

“I think already being in quarantined helped with the transition, to be honest, because I was already doing everything online at that point,” Pynn said.

Pynn, an occupational therapy major, had most of her classes in person before beginning her quarantine. She had already worked with her professors to shift to online, so the news of the remote learning period did not startle her in the way it may have startled others.

“When I got the email, I was just like ‘Okay well this is the next thing,’” Pynn said.

Students received announcement of the shift to remote learning on Sept. 11 in a video of Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., sent out by the University. This announcement came a few days after an initial video in which Father Pilarz shared the possibility of a shift to online learning in the coming weeks. Many students used this first video as a clue of what was to come.

“I was already in quarantine once they sent the initial email, and I knew we were going to go online at some point,” Pynn said. “It was just a matter of when. So, I guess it didn’t come as a huge surprise.”

While some students were in the middle of a quarantine, others had already completed a full two-week quarantine before having to shift back to online learning for another two weeks.

Senior Kyle Zaboski had just completed a two-week quarantine on Sept. 11 when Father Pilarz’s announcement arrived. Zaboski was able to return to in-person classes for two days before moving back online. He said that while he understands why the school is doing it, it is a tough situation for individual students.

“I want the school to do well, and I want to stay at school for as long as possible,” Zaboski said. “So, I’m optimistic that something like this will keep us here for as long as we can stay.”

The University of Scranton was not the first university to implement a two-week pause in order to lower cases. The University of Notre Dame in Southbend, Indiana, announced the shift to an online format for two weeks following a spike in cases after the first couple of weeks of classes. University of Notre Dame students were able to return to class following the full two-week remote period.

For those who did not have to quarantine previously, a fuller remote schedule could be entirely new. Pynn and Zaboski both said that the one of the best things that these students could do is to go outside when possible.

“Try to get outside, try to talk to as many people as you can, obviously staying social distanced and following guidelines,” Zaboski said. “You still need human interaction. You need to still be able to see the world a little bit. Things like that to keep your mental health in the right place are really important.”

Staying on top of schoolwork can also be challenging while taking remote classes, but Pynn says it’s important to remember that this is still part of the semester.

“It’s very tempting to pretend that you’re not still in classes because you’re not physically in classes. Just staying on top of your work is one of the most important things,” Pynn said.