Covid-19 has made me miss the status quo
When Covid-19 first hit our shores, I was mentally prepared.
Having lived through SARS and H1N1 during my primary and secondary school years, I had experienced temperature-taking measures and the cancellation of morning assemblies and cohort gatherings.
However, it is one thing to have an expectation of what measures might be taken, it is another when the situation actually hits you.
This time in university, gatherings of more than 50 people are not allowed.
For face-to-face classes, both staff and students ensure that our temperatures are recorded, and pictures of our seating arrangements are taken to help in case contact tracing is required.
With lectures now having to shift online, this has put technology and e-learning to greater use.
I stay on campus in Tembusu College, and over there, many measures were put in place too, like limiting the number of seats in the dining hall.
Large events had to be relooked.
The Tembusu Forum, aptly on Covid-19 itself, had to be scaled down due to crowd-size restrictions as well.
As a teaching assistant in the Department of Economics, I was able to see the changes from both points of view — the students’ and the teaching staff’s.
I think it is a wonderful replacement given the constraints we have, as it replicates the classroom experience pretty well.
There were teething problems, but it was unavoidable given the short notice. However, the transition was fast and honestly, rather painless, at least for me.
With all that said, Covid-19 has also made me realise a few things.
As cliche as it sounds, I realise how much we took the status quo for granted.
Regular events in school life such as midterm exams and class presentations suddenly got thrown into jeopardy.
Time seemed to drag on longer.
Some of my internship interviews went online. My client presentation for our faculty Field Service Project also moved online.
Additionally, I realised that my family and I take hygiene more seriously now using soap and sanitisers more frequently.
I am amazed by the creativity of fellow students as well.
Just because Covid-19 happened, it does not mean all things have to grind to a halt.
My college’s Arts Week has been adjusted, with mini sessions taking the place of mass performances, and there are more workshops and activities to compensate as well.
Of course, safety is still paramount and all the relevant measures are in place.
Something else I learnt is the importance of the human touch.
E-learning classes are by no means a viable long-term replacement for actual lessons.
The lack of human-to-human interaction in classes was felt, but it is a necessary trade-off given the current climate.
That said, I have had e-lessons together with some of my closer friends in the same modules so it is not all solitude.
I really appreciate how the government and the University have handled the situation.
They tried to strike a sensible balance in terms of measures versus the degree of inconvenience.
The measures put in place were not unnecessarily strict, but were also not recklessly lax.
It is not easy from the decision-maker’s point of view, and given the rapidly changing situation, I think it’s pretty much as good as it can get.
Granted, there will always be areas for improvement, but it would be unfair to criticise them until we give things a fair go.
Not forgetting, a massive thanks to all doctors and nurses for their sacrifices.
Also, a big thank you to those working in the civil service in all capacities.
They have all played a part in managing the situation, from the healthcare communications teams that promote the understanding of Covid-19, to the people planning manpower to ensure that the hospitals and polyclinics are all adequately staffed.
Whilst there is no time frame for how widely Covid-19 will spread and when measures can be tapered down, I’m sure that we will be able to get through this period relatively well together.
— The writer is a Year 4 Business Administration and Economics Double Degree student at NUS Business School. The opinions expressed are his own and do not represent the views and opinions of NUS.