How University of Regina student/parents are handling COVID-19

University of Regina student, Kristin Horse and her son Santino, pose from their home window where they are self-isolating from COVID-19. Photo by Mick Favel.

Parents who are also students at the University of Regina (U of R) are dealing with unique situations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Classes have been suspended at the U of R since March 14.

“It was a big surprise,” said Kristin Horse, U of R student. “I didn’t think that it would get to this extent, that school would be cancelled for the rest of the year.”

The U of R community was notified by email on March 9, of two student-residents being potentially infected by COVID-19. By March 14 classes on campus were officially cancelled for the semester and libraries, food outlets and the fitness centre were closed.

“I was all for [closing school],” said Michelle Lerat, U of R Student. “We’re so close in the university. We pass by so many people. There are so many surfaces being walked by and touched … I was glad they closed the school when they did.”

Although the cancelling of classes was expected, it still surprised some students.

“It was a shock at first,” said Amanda Leader, U of R Student. “[School] has been like a second home these past two years, so it’s been a tough transition.”

University of Regina student, Amanda Leader, poses with her daughter Maria, on the doorstep of their home where they are self-isolating from the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Mick Favel.

During the same week, all levels of school across Saskatchewan suspended classes.

A state of emergency was also declared in Regina leaving only essential services open for operation.

City residents were also advised to stay home to prevent the virus from spreading.

With all the new restrictions, parent-students are certainly feeling it.

Leader has been following social media for new ideas to keep her two daughters active and engaged. Over the past week they have done window paintings, at-home spa dates as well as movie nights.

“The hardest thing is trying to find ways to keep my kids busy,” said Horse, mother of three.

Prior to self-isolating, Dilynn Kehler and her children visited family regularly. They now use FaceTime to communicate but it is not the same.

“[My children] are not liking that they can’t go outside,” said Lerat, third-year student. “They definitely miss their friends. They miss school and the structure. They miss their freedom.”

“My son made a comment the other day, he said, ‘I’m not even scared of this pandemic anymore, I’m just annoyed.’”

The U of R made the move to “teaching at a distance.” This is being done by email, online meetings as well as through UR Courses, the university’s official form of online teaching.

Horse is currently taking a language class. Due to the move online she feels it will severely restricts her takeaways from the class.

Although Horse has a considerable amount of time to complete her work she says she has lost motivation due to the face-to-face interactions needed for the class.

Kehler has a poor history with online courses and specifically chose classes taught in the classroom.  All of her classes now being presented in an online form have put her in a vulnerable position.

“I don’t feel like I’m in school at all,” said Kehler, mother of three. “Since this transition, I feel like I’m teaching myself.”

The university as well as local libraries were ways for students to access books, materials, computers and the Internet. Not having access to these outlets has added an unfamiliar pressure.

“I just have my phone and my tablet,” said Leader, Psychology student. “I had to drop one of my classes because I don’t have a computer at home.”

“Typing out a six-page paper [without a computer] is daunting. I made the decision to drop the class so I could keep up with my other studies.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken away some of the simple pleasures of the day-to-day life of being a university student.

“I miss the routine,” said Lerat, parent-student. “I miss getting ready and going to school. I miss the one-on-ones with my teachers.”

“I miss the students,” said Leader, mother of two. “I miss being able to walk through the halls and chatting.”

“I miss just being there, “said Horse, Social Work student. “I really enjoyed getting out and going to the university.”

Although there are added pressures to parent-students right now there have been some positives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I get to sleep in,” said Horse, parent-student. “We don’t have anything set in stone for a schedule, but we do go out once a day for a walk to get outside of the house.”

“I like having everyone at home and being together,” said Lerat, Journalism student. “I’m letting them enjoy this break.”

Leader has used her extra time to research natural medicines for her and her family. She attributes her positive attitude and improved patience to her research.

“My grandmother always says I picked the toughest time to go to university because I have two young children, but it keeps me going, it keeps me striving to do the best that I can even in the situation that we are in right now.”

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