MCC innovates through pandemic shutdown

Students, staff juggle studies, boredom and safety

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By Yasmine Cruz and Nikolas Martin

Muscatine Community College staff and students are navigating the end of the 2019-20 school year from home, missing friends and family, coping with Zoom meetings, and alternating between intense study and boredom.

Muscatine Community College President Naomi DeWinter still finds herself busy working from home.

“I try to work out first thing in the morning, since the day gets away from me after that. I have lots of Zoom meetings.”

DeWinter likes to make sure the students and staff know that she is looking out for their well-being. “I talked with one of our students, who has not been out of the house since March 11.”

Even with the constant fear and worry, DeWinter looks forward to the future and to the things she will do when this ends.

“I plan on visiting my sisters as soon as this is over.” Even so, DeWinter knows this pandemic is important and that we should all be as careful as possible to help stop the spread. “There are certainly health benefits to the community. We are doing this, so that we don’t spread the virus and make things worse. I do have access to better snacks at home and I get served lunch but I do miss all of you! I miss being on campus. I will miss graduation. The awards banquet. PTK induction ceremony.”

Jasmine Mejia: ‘Bored easily being at home’

With the immediate switch form in-class classes to online only and Zoom meetings, some students are struggling to adjust. Jasmine Mejia believes she has adjusted pretty well to online classes.

“My initial reaction to the pandemic was sort of a surprise. I’ve never been through anything like this, so not knowing what to expect or what it was exactly was kind of scary.”

Mejia has decided to not fully quarantine herself but follows some rules she set up.

“I stay home when I have no reason to go out or do not need anything that is not essential. When I do go out, I do not stay out very long in places just going in and out or to get some groceries when needed in time. I also leave when I must go to work.”

Trying to keep busy with class proves difficult though when you are home, and everything is a distraction.

“I tend to get bored easily being at home for so long. I have started coloring more since I never, really, had the time to use any of the adult coloring books I have. I’m catching up on shows, and just hanging out playing games with my family.”

Even with this pandemic, Mejia believes people will start appreciating the things around them.

“I think some people will appreciate what they have around them more and how so many people risk themselves to work for the ones who need essential items like grocery store workers, healthcare workers, and so on. Being in quarantine I believe benefits some families who did not get to see each other with such busy schedules between everyone. They now get to spend time with each other more and may even learn more about one another that they didn’t know before.”

Jeff Kaufmann: Coping with weak internet connection

Students have had to learn how to adapt and experience new ways of learning while stuck at home. Teachers have had to do the same. Jeff Kaufmann, longtime MCC instructor, politician and hater of Tom Brady, is no different.

“I feel like it’s not the best way to teach or learn, but we all have to adapt and make the best of a bad situation.” — MCC teacher Jeff Kaufmann

Kaufmann, like everyone else, has had to convert his classes to online learning, something he doesn’t have much experience in.

“I feel like it’s not the best way to teach or learn, but we all have to adapt and make the best of a bad situation.”

Under the circumstances, online is the best way to teach moving forward until everything is back to normal. It has also improved his computer skills a bit since making classes online only.

He doesn’t have the best internet connection at his home, so a lot of times he has to travel to his office to upload his videos to his students.

He said some of his students tell him they have had to learn to like online schooling. But none love it, and can’t wait to get back into the classroom in the fall.

As far as social distancing goes, he feels like he’s adapted pretty quickly due to his other jobs having him be outside a lot. He also cleans down his office thoroughly right before he leaves.

While he has adapted to our new, hopefully temporary, way of life, he hopes, like many of us, that things can get back to normal soon and he can continue teaching at MCC.

Micah Dennis: ‘Hardest I’ve ever studied’

Micah Dennis, a student and performer here at MCC, made it a goal that he would continue to better himself while he, like most students, sat and vibed out during this quarantine.

Dennis, originally from Missouri, lived at the dorms. So when he was told that he would have to move out, he had to make a choice: Either move back to his family in Kansas City, or find somewhere to stay in Muscatine. Lucky enough for him, he was able to find a roommate and stay in Muscatine.

Once he had his housing situation figured out, he decided to turn his focus toward mental health. His strategy was to, “Break down each day by time that I could be using to better myself.”

He’s also been working on ways to try and find himself during these extremely tough times.

“I have been going to a virtual therapy session every week, working out, eating a little healthier, and studying the hardest I’ve ever studied for my classes.”

This helps keep him busy and motivated during a time when many of us may be feeling drained.

For school, while he says he’s taking it very seriously, he also says that the quarantine hasn’t affected his overall learning much.

“In all actuality not much has changed. I was strictly doing online schooling before all this happened to work more hours at work, so I was used to it.

“If we all just keep the collective health of our nation as a whole in our mind, it makes it a lot easier to accomplish these things.”