Emmy Hess was almost late for her college chemistry class, but it wouldn’t have been her fault.
The Kansas University premed major hadn’t overslept Monday morning, the Internet was acting up again.
A desperate phone call brought her mother, Sherry Hess, to town to see if she could help, but by then, Emmy had rebooted the server and logged into Zoom.
In the empty dining room of the Wagon Wheel that now serves as her classroom, the college freshman quietly took notes of her professor’s lecture – crisis averted.
It’s just one headache Emmy has dealt with after the state’s universities closed their campuses and moved instruction online in an effort to combat an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.
“I told my professors the Internet in Marion was not always the greatest,” she said. “They told me not to worry about it.”
Her mother, Sherry Hess, is thankful that Emmy, a co-valedictorian at Marion High School this past year, is a good student. She has put up with the inconvenience of a drive to her parent’s restaurant in town to try and finish 17 hours of classes.
“It’s a struggle for us being rural,” she said. “We can’t get Internet where we live. There is nothing that’s dependable. So she comes in here, but Eagle is not always dependable.”
Emmy said she is lucky that she has a computer, she knows some students that don’t have one.
Still, she was finally finding her groove after being overwhelmed by a large campus and would like to have finished out the year there.
“I still keep in touch with friends, through social media, texting and stuff,” she said.
Tori Shults, an athletic training major at K-State said moving home after finding your bearings your first semester at college is hard, she said.
So is creating a structure for her day when everything has been upended.
“I try to hop on and do it every day like I were actually at school,” she said. “I try to keep a routine.”
Due dates for the 14 hours of classes she is taking have changed from what they were at the beginning of the semester, creating some confusion.
“We haven’t even heard anything about finals,” she said. “I don’t know how that is going to work for K-State.”
Many of her professors don’t use Zoom to deliver lectures, they have converted their classes into an online format with recorded videos and reading material.
Michaela Regier, a freshman at Emory State University, said she preferred the classes that are streamed on Zoom because she can ask questions right then.
“It just doesn’t have that in-class feeling,” she said. “You have to really try and teach yourself something.”
Both Regnier and Shults say their professors and teacher’s assistants have delivered very prompt responses to student’s questions.
But many of their instructors also have daunting challenges of their own.
“I take physics from a professor who is teaching four sections, with 190 kids in each class,” said Shults. “He has got a lot of kids to take care of.”
The student are finding other ways to keep busy now that they are back at home.
Hess has been helping her parents at the restaurant and has been working as a certified nurse’s aide at St. Luke on an as-needed basis.
Regier has a job at NAPA Auto Parts on Main St. and hopes she will be able to take over as manager of Florence’s city pool in May if they are able to open.
Hess said she has been going to work and coming home as a way to self quarantine until the crisis is over.
The experience has taught her to be grateful for the challenge of a college career.
“I don’t take anything for granted now,” she said. “It made me realize I do have a lot to be thankful for, and it can change any second.”