COVID-19 changed students’ plans for the rest of the semester, but how has it affected Harding’s professors? Some professors seek to help their students beyond the classroom, so adapting to online classes has been difficult for them, too.
As much as students may miss Harding’s campus and the relationships formed there, professors are experiencing a similar loss of fostering relationships with their students.
“We chose this job to work with you, and now we don’t get that direct interaction as much,” Will Waldron, instructor of engineering and physics, said.
No matter the circumstances, God has provided a connection to the body of Christ even without face-to-face interaction, Waldron said.
“Most people come to Harding not just to get the good social education, but for the spiritual camaraderie,” Waldron said. “Just to see the campus so empty was a little sad.”
If a student were to walk across campus today, they may find a different atmosphere than when the sidewalks are filled with chatting students.
“The second week is when I got really blue, realizing that I wasn’t going to get to see some of y’all,” Lori Sloan, assistant professor of communication said. “I’m used to the summertime being slower like this.”
Though the beginning of this transition was challenging for many, technology has made this sudden change in the semester much smoother than it would have been without.
Sloan said her students have been able to continue their presentations through the “share screen” option on Zoom, and the professors in the communication department have been using Zoom to socialize with each other and catch up.
“We miss you students greatly, but we miss seeing each other, too,” Sloan said.
Chemistry lab tech Heather Hollandsworth said she agrees with Sloan about how April already feels like summer at Harding. The town of Searcy is very quiet now that the students are gone, Hollandsworth said.
“I just miss seeing them and being with them,” Hollandsworth said. “You can’t recreate that online.”
The science department has had to figure out how to do labs online, but professors successfully found a solution, Hollandsworth said. Since students no longer have the luxury of popping into a professor’s office or asking a question during class, students may need to rewatch several parts of their lecture videos to understand something.
In spite of this season of uncertainty, Hollandsworth said she finds joy in catching up with her classmates at least once a week to ask how they are doing. She has also found joy in her neighborhood community.
“We keep our distance, but we check on each other and make sure everybody’s okay,” Hollandsworth said.
Through all of this, Hollandsworth said she hopes her children will learn the importance of coming together and taking care of other people, and that they remember they can still praise God even when stuck in the house.