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Remote education added stress to freshman’s year

By Amber Williams

[Editor’s note: This continues Amber Williams’ multi-part series about the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on area college students.]

Ashley Burns, a freshman at Tidewater Community College, has had her college experience impacted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Burns graduated from Windsor High School in 2019 and has since been studying to be a special education teacher at TCC. The transition to remote education has added extra stress to her freshman year.

“I definitely am more stressed because there’s more independent work now … and the different due dates …[are] difficult to keep up with,” said Burns.

Shenoted that it is harder to focus on school when she is at home.

“I no longer have a structured classroom.”

The situation is made even more complicated by the fact that Burns is unable to have meetings with advisors in person. She is in a transfer program at TCC and has to make her transfer decision soon. This process is already difficult for her as a first-generation student and not being able to work through the decision with the correct staff in person makes the entire ordeal more nerve wracking.

One of the more disappointing parts for Burns from the perspective of a first-year college student, is that all of the social events that brought her together with other students have been canceled. However, TCC is attempting to keep things upbeat during this difficult time by hosting a Zoom open mic night during which students will be able to showcase different talents from home.

The concerning part for Burns is the fact that since TCC is a community college, they have students enrolled from all over Hampton Roads. As a result there’s not really a way the college can have a definitive number of diagnosed students.

“Which is a scary thought, but a huge reason that despite all the trouble [of shifting online] I am very thankful to have moved online so we aren’t all at [such high] risk,” she said.

Burns pointed out that college students have a lot to consider financially during this time. “I’m very nervous for college students right now who won’t qualify for a stimulus check.”

The government may use 2019 taxes to decide who to send money to, and if they do so, many college students — especially freshmen — will not receive any money. If the student was claimed by their parents in the 2019 tax cycle, they will receive no payment.

“… many college students who were claimed at that time, but since starting college have their own jobs and are independent … are struggling,” Burns said.

Many students who started working when they went off to college may have now lost their only source of income. They might not have received the $1,200 because of previously being claimed and they are over 17, therefore they will not receive the $500 check either. This is especially an issue for students who may not have stable homes to fall back on during this time.

For her, the newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Franklin have been very concerning.

“… I live there with a big family that includes older relatives with pre-existing conditions. Because we are a big family, we have to go to the store and pharmacy frequently,” said Burns.

She is concerned that because of the virus’s current spread rate that it may end up hitting too close to home.

AMBER WILLIAMS is an intern for The Tidewater News. Contact her at editor@thetidewaternews.com.