CONNECTICUT, USA — The transition from classroom studies to online learning at Connecticut Colleges and Universities is complete. Nearly every class, even ones never originally thought could be online have become virtual. The transition online hasn’t been easy for students of lower incomes but the state has found ways to help.
"It’s extremely hard but we are very persevering people," said Megan McClintock.
Those are words to describe the state’s class of 2020 as they transition into a new world of learning in virtual classrooms.
"My friends and I FaceTime every day but just losing that connection of being with my friends especially in the library or anything like that is painful to go through that," said McClintock.
That pain transitions to anxiety for some who find themselves in financial hardships. State Colleges and Universities, as well as some private schools, have decided to reimburse students for unused room and board costs.
"So that students who needed help making ends-meat during this crisis would be able to be helped," said Mark Ojakian.
Ojakian, the President of State Colleges and Universities, Mark Ojakian says they have pledged to continue to pay student workers for the rest of the semester. They’ve also re-purposed laptops to go home with financially struggling students. Even striking a deal with internet providers to supply them a connection.
"A group purchases so to speak at the system level to be able to provide all students that didn’t have access to the Internet access in their home," said Ojakian.
Ojakian projects a $24-million loss to state schools due to refunds and potentially low enrollment in the fall. None of which he says would be replenished by tuition increases.
"I believe we should not balance the impact of this pandemic on the back of our students who have struggled as much as any segment of the population dealing with this crisis," said Ojakian.
By far the toughest decision for schools was to cancel or postpone in-person graduations. The decision struck some students hard.
"I want to make my mom proud. I want to make my family proud," said McClintock a University of New Haven Senior. "My family was already set up to go to hotels and come in."
Ojakian says they are exploring the option of fall or winter commencements to supplement the loss.
"We will have our moments and we just have to keep looking forward in this," said McClintock.
Schools are giving the students the option to switch from a letter grade to pass-fail to alleviate some of the semester stress. State schools have decided to donate all of their unused food to food banks to support the community and their students in need.