It goes without saying that the COVID-19 Pandemic changed many “traditional” college procedures and protocols. To better understand how Le Moyne has been impacted, the Chairs of different departments responded to questions regarding what they’re doing to ease their students’ worries and their opinions on some of Le Moyne’s new safety measures. Those interviewed were Dr. Josefa Alvarez, Chair of the Foreign Languages Department, Dr. Fred Glennon, Chair of the Religious Studies Department, and Dr. Matthew Loveland, Chair of the Political Science Department. To maintain proper social distancing procedures the interview was conducted via email.
*Note: Dr. Alvarez asked every professor in her department these questions and her answers are a summary of their responses*
How did the pandemic affect your department?
All three professors indicated that their department spent hours learning new technologies and facing the challenges that went with it, but knew it would aid in successful hybrid learning.
“We had to move to a hybrid or to a completely online model and we had to work hard during the summer, attending several workshops in order to properly prepare our classes. All of us miss the face-to-face contact, not only with our students but also with our colleagues. Professors teaching hybrid or in-person courses complain about the difficulties hearing when wearing masks, which increase the challenge of a foreign language class.” -Foreign Languages Department
“Last spring the department, like other departments, had to scramble to learn and put into place new online technologies. Fortunately, most of the members of my department had been teaching courses online previously and were very adept at incorporating those technologies into their classes. This past summer, the faculty had to spend countless hours learning new technologies (such as Kaltur, Flipgrid, and the like) to make sure the classes would be as interactive as possible. The other challenge has been to develop appropriate practices for the hybrid classroom. We also eliminated 3 courses from our schedule that were taught by adjuncts (and had to do the same for the spring). Finally, we did all this while assuming 5-7 percent reductions in salary and the elimination of the college’s contribution to our retirement plan (which is hopefully only a temporary measure).” -Dr. Glennon
“The transition to new teaching styles and uncertainty about how the semester would come together made class prep more challenging than usual, and I know we all worked very hard to try to figure out how to best deliver courses to students who are taking them in a variety of ways. Just learning the technology is hard enough, but then trying to figure out how to deliver the content to students in-person and online every other week, with some students only online, and others with technology challenges, was a lot. We talked about it a lot since March and through the beginning of the semester. We’re still learning, and most of us are exhausted, just like you.” – Dr. Loveland
What is the department doing to ease the worries of its students?
All of the professors discussed their departments flexibility and extra help for students who were having difficulties.
“Every member of the department provided clear overviews of the course structure from the beginning of the semester. Also, all of us made the effort to openly talk with the students about this peculiar situation that we are all facing and the public health measures that all of us must adhere to. We have all shown more flexibility regarding office hours and understanding about the difficulties that this hybrid teaching model presents. We try to be as accessible as possible.” -Foreign Languages Department
“The faculty are very concerned about the impact of the pandemic on our students. Many have contributed to the Le Moyne Fund which helps students with financial needs. They are spending more time staying in touch with students through email, Zoom, and the like to help students ease into this new environment. We are redesigning our syllabi to reflect the problems that students are having, technologically, etc., focusing on those learning outcomes that are most essential for their courses and limiting assignments to those that most demonstrate student learning.” -Dr. Glennon
“Faculty in our department are trying to be as flexible as possible with student concerns. So, basically just listening and adapting as things change. You want to balance the standards of a good education with the necessary care for students given that we are in a pandemic.” -Dr. Loveland
Do you like/agree with how the college is handling the pandemic and the safety procedures that have been implemented?
Professors understand why students want to be on campus and believe if everyone continues to do their part, hopefully we can stay the remainder of the semester.
“Our department considers that Le Moyne is putting in extraordinary effort in dealing with challenges of the pandemic (regarding class arrangements and schedules as well as safety issues). Members strongly agree with continued vigilance practices from the beginning of the semester. They feel that our campus is safer than other schools.” -Foreign Languages Department
“Many of the members of the department are at an age where the effects of COVID-19 can be disastrous. The college’s efforts with mask wearing, physical distancing, and disinfecting make sense. Given that Le Moyne is not experiencing the same rise in COVID cases that other colleges are experiencing, it seems that the measures thus far have enabled the college to continue its mission of educating students in a way that cares for them as whole persons. Of course, student compliance with these measures is essential and, thus far at least, it seems that most students are taking these seriously.” -Dr. Glennon
“There are some things I’d have done differently, but I don’t envy the position the decision makers are in because it seems every choice is bad. Personally, I’d prefer being fully online because the mixed modes are a lot to manage, but I know that some, maybe most, students want to be on campus and I understand trying to be as smart and safe as possible to make that happen.” -Dr. Loveland
What is the overall message you want to send to students?
Dr. Alvarez, Dr. Glennon, and Dr. Loveland all stressed that their departments, as well as themselves, are there for everyone and will help each of their students.
“Our professors want to thank the students for their willingness to continue with their college education in this challenging situation, as well as for being so attentive to the rules. Professors acknowledge that their classes are filled with students who are truly thankful to be learning during this unprecedented time.” -Foreign Languages Department
“The faculty in our department (and across the college) care deeply about you as whole persons. We are here to help make your educational experience at Le Moyne as rich and rewarding as it can be during these trying times. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have a question, a concern, or a problem. If we can’t help you resolve it, we will seek to find people who can. We understand that right now is not the full college experience you had hoped for. But we are doing everything we can to ensure that your academic preparation and progress goes on with as few hindrances as humanly possible.” -Dr. Glennon
“I hope students know that, since March, almost all of the conversations faculty have been having with one another are centered on providing a quality education to our students given all of the challenges we face with the pandemic. There’s a lot of cynicism about why colleges are open for on-campus instruction this fall, much of it valid, but faculty really haven’t got much say about those decisions and administrators are faced with mostly bad choices. What your professors can most control is designing and delivering courses and we are all working harder than ever to make that happen.” -Dr. Loveland
Overall, the three professors want all of their students to succeed. Every professor has put in a lot of time and effort redesigning their classes for optimal outcomes with their students. It is now on the students to wear their masks and follow all social distancing guidelines and safety protocols so the semester can be completed on campus.