My campus may close and I’m worried

I expect to get word that Chapel Hill’s campus will be closed on Monday for the foreseeable future, and while I think it would be the right thing to do, I am worried about it.

Worried because it isn’t the way I want my students to finish the semester, and, for most of them, their college experience. The final semester of senior year is one to tie off studies, to enjoy the last few months before adulthood, to nail down the mentors you need for future jobs, and to keep your dear friends close.

Instead, they’ll be Zooming in to class from home. They’ll get the lectures and the discussion, but they won’t get the community. They won’t get the creativity and team cohesion and problem solving that they would with in-person meetings. I may miss the clues that they’re drifting during an online class that I wouldn’t miss in person.

Worried because, for many of them, they won’t be able to return to their jobs and work-study programs. They’ll miss those paychecks. They may face food insecurity. They may return to homes with trouble. The may not have great internet access. Will the libraries in their hometowns be able to support research projects? Will the libraries even be open?

Worried that I’ll fail them as a teacher, that I won’t be able to adjust my teaching style, which relies on a physical presence, to digital. Worried that I’ll get confused by the digital tools and not use them to help students. Worried that I’ll lose some students. So, I’m preparing and practicing; I’m rethinking and adjusting my syllabus and style. And I’m confident that, with their help, the instruction will be fine.

I’m sad that this could be the way they have to finish their senior year, but I’m committed to do what I can to make it good.