St. Thomas University student Michael Tremblay was working at the CCAA Men’s Volleyball National Championship when he read the email that STU was cancelling all in-person classes. He said he was speechless.
“At first I couldn’t even tell my friend that they were cancelled. You see the virus news and closures around the world, but you never think it’ll affect you. I had no idea how to feel,” Tremblay said over text message.
STU announced March 13 they were suspending all in-person classes for the remainder of the academic year due to COVID-19 concerns. Classes will be cancelled March 16 to 18 and will resume online on March 19.
Tremblay, a third-year Great Books student, said he relies on in-person classes because they help to hold him responsible to show up and participate in class. He said that’s what drives him during the school year.
“On long breaks away from class I find myself in a depressive rut with no drive and a heavy weight of uselessness, and sadness even,” he said.
Tremblay isn’t alone in this thinking.
Fourth-year student Vicky Loucks understands the decision to cancel in-person classes, but said the announcement was “bittersweet.”
“I’m realizing that I just had my last university class and I didn’t even know it,” she said.
Loucks said she does better when she’s able to sit in class and focus on what the professor is teaching, which is why she hasn’t taken online classes.
She said COVID-19 is scary, but she’s not worried about it enough to go back home to Ontario.
“People keep asking me if I’m going home, but I think I’m better off staying here,” said Loucks.
Loucks’ mom is a nurse practitioner and tells her to keep washing her hands and to keep Lysol wipes in her car.
“I think I’ve been keeping pretty levelheaded about it, but there’s always still that thought in the back, your mind like, ‘Okay, well, there could be a lot more cases I don’t know about.’”
Third-year STU student Gillian Little’s international exchange to Japan this month has been cancelled. She found out in an email from STU’s exchange advisor on Saturday. While she said she expected this outcome, she still feels defeated. And the news coverage hasn’t helped her anxiety, she said.
“There’s a lot of it, and it gets a little redundant. Also, I feel like while it does share information, it also causes fear and panic,” Little said over Facebook Messenger.
She said the “forced isolation” won’t help her depression either.
“[I’m] surrounding myself with positive, less worried people the best I can. My family is great for this. And trying my hardest to close out of news about it if it doesn’t affect my personal situation. Also keeping busy with work has helped keep me distracted from it all.”
As for Tremblay, he said his whole university career and how he’s been learning is “changing dramatically.”
He said he’ll need a lot more willpower to devote time each day to studying, reading and engaging with his professors outside of the classroom.
”To wake up in your home with nowhere that you have to be, it becomes difficult to take charge while laying on your bed with your laptop.”
Tremblay’s mom, a nurse in the process of opening a new “surge clinic” in Moncton, a clinic dedicated to everything virus-related, has been sending him texts every day about how to protect himself and updates about the virus.
“She keeps reiterating the process of hand washing, to not overreact to the virus but be vigilant, and that the workers in the hospital are working their butts off while remaining calm yet brave.”
Tremblay said it’s a troubling situation, but he’s going to try to “keep clean” and “carry on as usual.”
“I understand why they [cancelled classes]. I really do. I just really hate it. And I hate how I won’t see my classmates and professors and how I won’t be able to go to class for the rest of the semester.”
With files from Jasmine Gidney and Caitlin Dutt