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Georgia college students in quarantine share their experiences

By Kathrin Merritt

Life looks different for everyone right now, including university students. Classroom closures and shelter in place orders due to the COVID-19 outbreak are in effect all over the country, which has shaken up how students learn, socialize and structure their days.

College closures across the country have brought big changes for over 14 million students ; those in Georgia are no exception. Following Gov. Brian Kemp’s order to shut down public schools, the University System of Georgia announced that it would be halting in-person instruction for the semester.

“The University System of Georgia announced it was suspending in-person instruction at its 26 campuses through March 29, ” Maureen Downey, Ty Tagami and Marlon A. Walker of the Atlanta Journal Constitution said. “Georgia is now falling in line with other states where colleges and universities…have shuttered, moving students online.”

In the middle of March, the University System of Georgia announced that it would be suspending in-person instruction for its 26 campuses for two weeks, followed by online instruction for the rest of the semester.

Suddenly, campuses that normally host vibrant social scenes are nearly vacant. Meanwhile, the students are moving their lives inside to help protect themselves and their communities from the coronavirus.

“Now I normally just do work for like a few hours in the morning, instead of going to classes and then in the evenings I cook and try and do some sort of hobby, watch a movie or play guitar or something to try and stay entertained,” said Avery Gleason, a University of Georgia sophomore.

While students are staying in quarantine to help slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus, having to spend time away from friends and loved ones can be tough. While video chatting, texting or calling are good ways to keep in touch with those you are not with, in person communications and normal schedules are still missed.

“There is so much time to think and be to myself,” said University of Georgia sophomore Zoe Love. “Maybe that’s a positive thing though too it’s kind of been time to step back away from everything, think, you know, think about yourself. Do I have any hobbies? The answer was no so now I’m picking up some hobbies.”

College campuses are unique places for students to meet and get involved with people with their same goals. While being off campus can give students the chance to reconnect with their families, they still miss getting to connect with those they are used to seeing around campus on a daily basis.

“It’s great being home and being with my family, but I also miss seeing friends, so it’s kind of bittersweet,” said Jack Saxton, a student at the University of Mississippi sophomore that is currently back home in Gainesville, Georgia.

The coronavirus quarantine has changed the way students conduct their lives. While normal activities have been put on hold, there are still opportunities for students to continue learning and growing from the experiences around them.

“After the pandemic, I hope that everyone is a little nicer and appreciates each other a little bit more,” Gleason said. “We say we’re tired of social interaction sometimes and ignore each other when we’re on the bus or wherever, but then you can’t do it for a month and it’s like, hey, maybe I missed that.”

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Reporting and Writing Across Platforms: A Journalism Course in the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia

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Kathrin Merritt

Kathrin Merritt

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