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Spring on the York College campus

Coping with COVID-19

How has the YCP community been handling their time in isolation?
An illustration by Rose Wong depicts several people working in personal office environments, each separated from the rest by a protective bubble.

We are confronting the worst public-health crisis in a century. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world and will affect our lives for some time to come. Hopefully, by the time you read this, the number of COVID-19 cases will have fallen significantly. 

How did the YCP community pull together and manage? With humor, compassion, and resilience. Here are just a few comments. If you want to hear more about how community members managed during these trying times, please visit our website and follow social media, #YorkTogether. Stay safe and well. 

Kristin Schab ’04 

Director of Alumni Relations 

How have COVID-19 precautions affected you professionally? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted each of us in different ways through our various communities, our families, and our work. There are new changes every day that continue to shake up our lives. We are proud of how we have seen our York College students, alumni, faculty, and staff stepping up and working together through this pandemic. 

As we adjust to a new normal and practice social distancing, feeling connected to one another is more difficult, yet more important than ever. Know that your Spartan family is never far away. That’s why we are working diligently to provide even more virtual engagement opportunities. Whether you are looking for a way to connect with students or are seeking professional development opportunities, there is something for everyone. 

Our team is hard at work creating virtual engagement opportunities for our 37,000 Spartans across the globe. Ideas include a gallery of alumni blogs/webcasts, virtual Coffee and Conversation Sessions with Spartans and YCP Faculty/Staff, social media contests, just to name a few. We have also started implementing webinars as part of our virtual engagement strategy and the first one went very well. Opportunities will be pushed out electronically, so we are encouraging our alumni to make sure their information (including emails) is updated with our office. 

How has the COVID-19 emergency affected you personally?

I am not going to lie…this adjustment is intense. My husband is considered essential at his company and must still report to his office each day. Trying to work from home, participate in phone/Zoom meetings, homeschool a first and third grader, and keep a spunky four-year-old occupied has been a new adventure! Luckily, my husband is now home part of the time. 

What are you doing to help alleviate anxiety or stress? 

What is helping me is communication with my amazing husband. He has adjusted his hours at work so he can get home earlier and take the three girls outside for fresh air and exercise. That hour is my time to work in peace, clean the house from school, and start on dinner. I also try and put all of this into perspective as well. How can I complain about all of my things-to-do list when there are some parents not able to be at home and putting themselves in the front lines of danger with their health? 

John Kershner ’20 

Mechanical Engineering 

How have COVID-19 precautions affected you academically? 

Academically, the situation has changed completely. As an Engineering major, I am used to many in-person, hands-on classes and, of course, everything is online now. This was challenging at first, but now it has shown to be an opportunity for professors and students to get more creative with reaching their learning goals. We have all learned to adapt and switch many projects to topics that are able to be completed at home. Luckily, our professors are always there to answer questions, and they are very understanding as well. 

I was planning a trip to Germany this summer with the Graham Scholars that has recently been canceled. We were planning to do design thinking workshops and network with German companies to develop relationships to benefit YCP students. Although we are very disappointed, we are exploring how we might be able to hold workshops and meetings online with the contacts we planned to visit. 

How have COVID-19 precautions affected you personally? 

As someone whose favorite part about being on campus is the friends that are there too, going home has been a big change, but a nice one as well. While not being able to hang out in person is very disappointing, we have had fun nights on Zoom calls, and find other ways to stay in touch. Being at home has also not been too bad, as I am getting to spend time with my family, including my sister, who I would usually only see once or twice a semester as she attends college in New Jersey. 

What are you doing to help alleviate anxiety or stress? 

To alleviate stress, I’ve been going on lots of walks outside during my family’s lunch break (as my parents and sister are also working/studying from home). I’ve also sought to talk to friends as much as possible and reach out to those I haven’t heard from. And, like everyone else, there are some really great TV shows and movies online that make time fly by. 


Katie (Lamb) Johnston ’14 


How have COVID-19 precautions affected you professionally? 

I work for a public relations agency and, thankfully, my work can be done remotely. I’ve set up a home office and have been hard at work supporting my clients. In times of crisis, communications is an essential business function. Companies must communicate with their customers, investors, and the general public to share the steps they’re taking to keep employees/customers safe and share how business may be impacted. We’ve been busier than ever, but I’m lucky to work for a very supportive, transparent, and quick-thinking company. 

How have COVID-19 precautions affected you personally? 

Unfortunately, we had to cancel a much-anticipated 30th birthday trip to the U.K. for my husband (also a YCP alum), which we were taking with a few other York friends, but it’s better to be on this end rather than stranded in a foreign country! We are heeding the government and healthcare officials’ warnings and have stocked up on necessary supplies for a few weeks, and our cats seem very happy to have us home! 


What are you doing to help alleviate anxiety or stress? 

Working out has been a huge stress relief, as well as taking walks for fresh air. We are also trying to do our part by supporting local businesses…every bit helps. Staying connected with friends is also critical, so there have been constant calls, texts, and FaceTimes. And even though I’m in the media business, I’m trying to stay away from obsessively checking for news updates! 

 

Sydney Fitzwater ’20 

Nursing, Track 


How have COVID-19 precautions affected your sports activities and your academics? 

As a Nursing major and a student-athlete, these precautions have really changed the dynamic of my studies and my efforts to compete in track. However, I think precautions must be taken to protect us regardless of how we feel of the decision. It is just hard to know what decisions to make at times like this. 

At first, nursing students were to remain on campus to continue clinicals, but we were later sent home with the rest of the students. This forced our nursing professors to think of ways to resume clinicals over the internet, which is definitely not the same as an in-person clinical experience. Additionally, with the NCAA decision and the CAC decision, track is not occurring this spring as usual, which is sad since track tends to be an outlet for me. 

How have COVID-19 precautions affected you personally? 

Personally, I tend to be all over the place. I study in a few different locations on campus because I often need a change in scenery, so being stuck just in my house is a hard adjustment. I have definitely noticed that I have been struggling with motivation and staying focused on my school work. I do feel as though this has given me the opportunity to refocus my faith and also spend quality time with my family. 

What are you doing to help alleviate anxiety or stress? 

Currently, I am watching NCIS (sometimes with my cat) which has been a nice way to de-stress. My dad and I have also been working on a 1,500-piece puzzle, which we have made a lot of progress on. Finally, I am a plant mom and I love to take care of my plants and learn more about caring for them. 

 

Brandon Childs 

Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach 

How have COVID-19 precautions affected you professionally? 

My professional life has just been turned upside down. As a coach, there is so much that goes into the preparation for your season and then to have your season cut short after only a month is just a bit numbing. This is so unprecedented and, at the end of the day, to have the face-to-face relationship with my athletes gone from my daily work experience is painful. We get into higher ed to make a daily impact on our students and, while it can be done from a distance, it is certainly not the same. 

How have COVID-19 precautions affected you personally? 

Personally, the uncertainty of COVID-19 is a little scary. While I do not take the effects of the virus lightly, I do try to find the positives in every situation, and the time that it has given me with my wife and four kids has been so good. Homeschooling our kids and seeing them grow right before our eyes is really cool. This has also given our family an opportunity to teach our children the importance of empathy, sacrifice, and prayer. 

What are you doing to help alleviate anxiety or stress? 

My kids make me laugh — that does the trick.

 

Betsy Witman 

Women’s Basketball Coach 

How have COVID-19 precautions affected you professionally? 

COVID-19 has affected me professionally because this is the time of year when I try to wrap up recruiting for the fall of 2020. It’s been difficult not being able to meet with prospective student-athletes face-to-face. So, I’ve been forced to communicate with them through emails, phone calls, FaceTime, and text messages. 

How have COVID-19 precautions affected you personally? 

Personally, it has affected me due to the fact that I have to work from home with my 3-year old son who wants my undivided attention. So many times, I have to wait until he goes to bed to do the majority of my daily work! 

What are you doing to help alleviate anxiety or stress? 

To deal with the daily stress and anxiety, I’ve been working out every day and taking walks with my son. I’m also mowing my own lawn and plan to do some outdoor landscaping around my house. 

 

Ry Fryar 

Assistant Professor of Art 
 

How have COVID-19 precautions affected you professionally? 

It has been a whirlwind. Teaching studio art courses online is particularly difficult, but I have found ways to make it work. My drawing students have been keeping an “Apocalypse Zine,” a farcical sketchbook of their adventures at the end of the world. Most seem to be enjoying the project with a grim, and sometimes silly, sense of humor. There is no substitute for making art together in the same classroom, but we have found ways to continue to learn and grow as artists. 

In my own practice as a professional painter, it has been more difficult. Last week, I had a solo show of my paintings canceled. I hope it will be rescheduled after the quarantine, but who knows? 

How have COVID-19 precautions affected you personally? 

My son has been living and working abroad. Late last week, we heard the institution he had been with decided to return him abruptly to the U.S. We hadn’t expected to see him in three months and this morning I picked him up at the Baltimore airport. We are very happy to see him, but it has been a bit of a shock. One of my students was in a real bind with nowhere to go, so we are housing them in an extra bedroom for a few weeks. We are suddenly crowded, and all of us are supposed to stay inside — on top of my new office/studio space — the space that was my foyer last week! 

What are you doing to help alleviate anxiety or stress? 

The quarantine does not prohibit exercise outdoors. Last week I ran 25 miles…this week I am going to have to limit myself to 30 or I think my exercise obsession will get entirely out of hand. When the weather warms just a bit, I am going to get out and bicycle. A lot. 

 

James and Susan Keogh 

Parents 
 

How have COVID-19 precautions affected you professionally? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely affected all of us to varying degrees. I am an electrician for the Elizabeth Police Dept. and am considered “essential” personnel, so I have continued to work as normal. At work, we are trying to take extra precautions by sanitizing areas before we work, but sometimes that is not always possible. With Susan and the kids staying safe at home, I’m worried about what I might catch and bring back home and expose them to. 

How have COVID-19 precautions affected you personally? 

I agree with York College President Pamela Gunter- Smith’s decision to close the campus at the time she did, but as a parent I feel bad for my children who were having a wonderful first year at York. They have all continued their studies online, but they miss the York friends and community that they quickly fell in love with. Both Susan and I believe that just reinforces our belief that the kids made the right decision to go to York. 

What are you doing to help alleviate anxiety or stress? 

I am doing the same as Susan, advising the kids to get outside in the sun, weather permitting, and just take a break now and then. We’re trying not to dwell on the constant bad news being broadcast both on the news channels and social media. 

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