COVID-19’s impact on the college workplace

Student at work in Kenan Plaza

By Matthew Dutton

Zoom meetings, mask mandates and social distancing are all concepts that employees of Flagler College have become accustomed to this semester.

The workplace at Flagler looks different to those that expected the normal face-to-face interaction.

Tarra Crutcher, a sophomore at Flagler, started her first semester as a community advisor under Residence Life on campus.

Although this is her first year on staff, Crutcher feels that her job is far from what she initially expected.

“I was looking forward to family dinners in D-Hall and making new friends, but everything is different and constantly changing,” Crutcher said.

Crutcher also feels disconnected from her first-year residents due to the restrictions on events and social gatherings.

“Hall events are very different,” Crutcher said. “I feel like if there wasn’t Covid, I would recognize more of my residents. I am not able to see them as often at events or hall parties.”

The pandemic also has changed the way professors approach teaching both online and in-person.

Professor Tracey Eaton has been at Flagler for 13 years and is looking at the optimistic side of the new changes and protocols.

“There are some real positives,” Eaton said. “We realized just how much we can do online when you need to. I never would have thought to use Zoom for so many things.”

Teaching looks a lot different for Eaton as he understands the students are also struggling with the transition into online and in-person classes.

“The biggest thing that has changed for me is that I am showing more flexibility with my students,” Eaton said. “Now is the time to show compassion and tolerance.”

Eaton’s teaching style and workplace have shifted this semester and he realizes some things might even stay in place.

“I think post-covid workplace will be different because we see so many more possibilities. You get to know you coworkers better because you see into their homes often times,” Eaton said. “Even without human connection, we have a sense of it virtually.”

Other on-campus services, like the Learning Resource Center, require operations to be fully virtual.

Olivia Hrymoc, a sophomore at Flagler and a math tutor at the Learning Resource Center, learned that virtual tutoring sessions makes her job both flexible and stressful.

“We only get a 30-minute time block to tutor over Zoom which is difficult to make sure that the student actually understands everything,” Hrymoc said. “A lot of students learn at different paces and it’s kind of hard with a set time block.”

Despite the struggles of Zoom tutoring sessions, Hrymoc finds some advantages to working from her computer.

“If I don’t know a concept, I am able to quickly look it up and refresh my memory,” Hrymoc said. “It looks bad if a tutor looks something up while in person, but over Zoom it makes things a little more flexible.”

The workplace looks different on Flagler’s campus, but Professor Eaton said that everyone has adjusted in their own ways.

“Initially there was worry about how things would work and whether it would be safe. I have seen all the steps taken and it makes me feel good about Flagler because I see that the college has done everything possible to protect everyone.”

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