Since the coronavirus began to rapidly spread worldwide, it became evident that certain measures would have to be taken to help contain the spread. These measures included the transition to distance learning, which many people have mixed feelings about. While some are dreading every moment of quarantine, others are looking for the silver-lining.
President Claudia Schrader is a glass half full kind of person. For her, there is light at the end of the tunnel in terms of the coronavirus pandemic. She doesn’t think that distance learning will have as negative of an impact as some think. In fact, she sees this as an opportunity that could benefit learning and overall productiveness.
“I don’t really think learning ever really gets disrupted. This experience will bring more focus and resolve to individuals earning their degrees,” Schrader said. “If anything it will show how important it is to have gainful employment.”
In the wake of distance learning and social distancing, students and teachers alike have to adjust to moving the classroom experience online. Schrader explained her point of view.
“This really shows us that teaching and learning doesn’t have to happen one way,” Schrader said. “We really want to ensure academic continuity. There are so many students who maybe just started or are the first in their family to go to college. Who would want to say there is no more school for the rest of the semester? That puts people back for years and with the uncertainty of the future, academic continuity is very important. We really want to maintain that.”
For President Schrader, the sheer fortitude of both CUNY staff and students is a delight to behold. She gave her thoughts about the precautionary measures put into place.
“All this took place in the course of not even 20 days, the university has been outstanding with their response to the outbreak,” Schrader said. “They plan, they act, they execute, they put a lot of resources into making it happen online, including getting computers for students; over 50,000 laptops for CUNY students who need it.”
President Schrader doesn’t think that this should discourage students in terms of their college experience.
“While I know this is not what anyone had in mind, I want students to make the best of it. There may have been students who didn’t believe they could do online learning but now realize they can do anything,” Schrader said. She did acknowledge the challenges of this whole situation however. “I know online teaching and learning is a little harder, you have to in fact give a little more of yourself.”
While all of this is a boost of confidence and reassurance, what happens afterwards? We don’t know what’s next, but President Schrader hopes we will take this opportunity to reconnect, decompress and do things we never had time for. For students with the new-found worry of sanitation for the campus, President Schrader is already on it.
“We are in the process, now that the campus is shut down, of looking at some companies to come in and do a widespread cleaning of the college. We have a staff of 84 custodians and we want to make extra sure that everything is sanitary,” Shrader said. “But it’s also going to take all of us. When we see something, say something. If it doesn’t look right we need to say something. The other side is everyone taking personal responsibility for what they are doing. I hope when we get back, everyone will feel they play a part in cleanliness as well.”