Students discuss challenges of fewer virtual learning options for those in quarantine and isolation housing


Illustration by Olivia Abeyta

After in-person learning resumed at Northwestern, students who contracted COVID-19 found themselves with fewer virtual learning options.

Ralph Destin, Reporter

After testing positive for COVID-19 the same day in-person learning resumed, Communication freshman Gavin Shaub said he spent the first week of classes learning mostly through lecture notes and class assignments. 

While Wildcat Wellness allowed students who tested positive for COVID-19 to have an uninterrupted learning experience, that luxury is no longer an option for those quarantining at 1835 Hinman. With fewer virtual options available to him, Shaub said he had a difficult experience.

“There was no equivalent to keep up with my work,” Shaub said. “All my teachers were nice, but they didn’t really have many resources to do the work that I needed to catch up.” 

Many professors decided not to provide hybrid learning environments, despite the COVID-19 positivity rate rising the week the University ended mandatory testing.  

Other students had less difficulty adjusting to quarantine. Bienen freshman Daniel Zitomer said going into quarantine was not as bad as he expected, because it gave him a break from the stress of his midterm exams. 

While Zitomer reported being symptomatic, the opportunity to quarantine allowed him to sleep more and receive extensions from his professors for most of his assignments and midterms. 

“Honestly, I needed a break,” Zitomer said. “The fact that I got COVID during midterm week is terrible and also super lovely because it means that I get four or five days where everything gets pushed back.”

Zitomer said his professors were responsive to and understanding of his emails, which he said isn’t always the case with some professors.

However, the downside to being in quarantine for the Bienen percussionist is that he’ll have to miss several important musical performances.

“(The gigs) were extra performances that I’m unfortunately missing within the next week depending on when I get out, ” Zitomer said. 

Communication freshman Talya Braverman said learning options across her classes were inconsistent, with only a few professors offering an integrated in-person and remote learning environment. 

“It was a little rough for a few classes because there wouldn’t be a Zoom option,” Braverman said. “(Professors) would just either record it and say watch it later or there was just no recording at all.” 

Braverman said despite the inconsistency of virtual learning options across her classes, professors were still accommodating and were responsive to her concerns about being absent.

Shaub, however, said while his professors were understanding of his situation, the lack of recorded lectures or hybrid learning while in quarantine made it difficult to keep up with new content. 

“For (my economics class), all I could do was look at the notes after,” he said. “Now I’m in my midterm week and I don’t feel like I’ve learned as much as I should have.”

Shaub said doing work while in quarantine was difficult because he couldn’t break up his school work with socialization.

Similarly, Braverman said she found it difficult to be motivated and focused on her work, especially because students in Hinman are advised to stay in their rooms and not travel to other floors.  

“Something I realized that was really important to me was just getting up and walking to different classes,” Braverman said. “Being in the same room, you just get very lethargic. I was just at this stagnant position.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @destinralph

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