When Daria Gibson returned home from university due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was just one of many Bahamians having to resort to continuing their post-secondary studies online. Upon coming home, she said, she had to remind herself that she still had classes and was not on vacation.
“When you’re off to school and you come back, you see home as a vacation spot type of thing – not so much as a work environment,” said Gibson, 20.
“At first it was really an adjustment, because even though the lectures were online, you didn’t have so much of a commitment to make sure that you were in class because everything was recorded. So, it was just an adjustment of reminding myself that I have class and I’m not on vacation.”
Despite seven weeks of online studies at home to complete her junior year at Hampton University, the pharmacy studies student finished strong, recording four A grades on her final exams which she took online last week.
Virtual studies are not new to Gibson. Prior to the coronavirus global health pandemic, she had two classes that were in-classroom-based, but with predominantly online assignments while at the Hampton, Virginia, university. She’s also taken what she refers to as a hybrid class that was half taught in-class and half online and for which she had to take an online final. Other than that, for the most part over the three years of university, she said, her finals have been in class, until now.
With that online experience under her belt, she said, the biggest transition to returning home and continuing her studies was the online teaching, and not so much the online assignments.
“So, I already had a gist for it (online assignments) so it wasn’t so much of a big transition there. The teaching online was the transition,” she said.
Gibson also didn’t expect her last year at Hampton to finish the way it did. As a result, she was happy and sad to return home.
“I was happy because I always want to come home, but I was sad because this was my last semester of undergrad. It was just very bittersweet because I was like I want to enjoy my last semester of undergrad, but it got cut short.”
Gibson had returned to school from spring break only to learn that the university’s student body was being sent home, which happened in a matter of days, due to the global health pandemic.
The first cases of coronavirus were detected in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The United States confirmed its first case on January 21. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared it a pandemic on January 30.
The Bahamas had 92 confirmed cases, 11 deaths, 37 recovered cases, eight hospitalized cases and 44 active cases yesterday; 1,626 tests have been completed.
Worldwide there were 4,077,594 confirmed cases and 281,287 deaths.
“When we first got sent home, the initial statement [the university] sent out said we were only going home for three weeks. At the end of the third week, they came back and said they were extending it for the rest of the semester.”
Gibson’s pediatric pharmacy program studies is set up in such a way that she is able to do three years of undergraduate school then transfer to graduate school. She had already transferred from Hampton and enrolled at Mercer University in Atlanta for fall. She does not know if she will still be doing online studies at the new school in the fall or in-person classroom studies.
“We were supposed to have an event on May 22 to do like an orientation type of format, but they moved all of that online. We had our first online meeting on Tuesday and they gave us a schedule, but they just don’t know when we’re coming back to school, [and] if we do come back to school if it will be online still.”
A notice on the Mercer University site says they are monitoring on a daily basis, developments related to the spread of COVID-19, and following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other government agencies. And that the health and safety of their students, faculty, staff and visitors is their highest priority.
While at home, Gibson is working in the family business. She can’t even socialize with friends due to social distancing being practiced, and no gatherings of more than 10 people allowed under the emergency orders. As well as the daily curfews and weekend lockdowns nationwide through the end of May.