COVID-19 concerns: How anxiety is affecting students’ learning experience

By Kara Boerio

Whether it’s peers not following protocols or concerns about returning to remote learning, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing anxiety for Youngstown State University students. 

Erin Hungerman, assistant dean of students, has seen many comments on the YSU app regarding the mask policy not being enforced. 

“I know wearing a mask isn’t always the most convenient or pleasant experience, but it’s the safe, respectful and appropriate thing to do on campus,” she said.

The university has had its mask policy in place for some time now, and she said the expectation is that people are aware of and compliant with the policy. 

“The more individuals we have following the mask policy, the more positive reinforcement there is for others to do the same,” Hungerman said. “We have resources, such as the incident reporting form and student complaint form, available to aid in that process.” 

Hermilee Gomez, a freshman criminal justice major, said she sees guidelines not being followed inside classrooms.

“The mask thing, yes, but we’re not social distancing, not at all, and we’re not cleaning desks,” Gomez said. “I just feel like there’s a lot that they can do that they’re not doing.” 

She also said she’s scared in-person classes will have to transition back to remote learning. 

“I can’t focus online. I’m a very hands-on person, and even if it’s just writing something down or asking questions to the professor, [it] makes it way easier rather than when you’re [on] a computer,” she said.

Brandon Cantwell, a junior English major, was looking forward to returning to campus for in-person classes. He said being stuck in the house made his head feel like it was “going to explode” from being in a repetitive routine, and he often felt distracted. 

“Whenever I go to an online class, I would just sit there and just play games on the side, especially when the material is something I really need to focus on,” Cantwell said. “It’s kind of nice to be in-person where you know the material really sits, and I feel like I’m more productive on campus anyway.” 

Connor Tarr, a junior finance major, said it was difficult to adjust from online to in-person classes.

“Just after having class for a year and a half online, I have to get back into the routine of getting out of bed early, getting a shower, eating breakfast and driving to campus,” Tarr said. “Stuff that I haven’t done for a year and a half that was kind of difficult to get back into that rhythm.”

Tarr said he understands why other students have concerns with in-person classes. Still, he said the university is doing enough to keep students safe while at the same time trying to return to a traditional learning environment.