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16 College Students Share Their Back to School Experiences

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From Zoom singing courses to online plays, our student bloggers are sharing their fall semester experiences.

The fall marks the start of a brand new school year. But this fall semester is unlike any other due to the current global health crisis.

Students around the country are heading back to completely different experiences either online or on campus with strict social distancing protocols.

We've reached out to 16 of our college student bloggers to see how their colleges and universities are planning to move forward with classes and on campus activities and the impacts it has on performing arts courses and productions.

Note: All health and safety precautions for the listed schools are in place for the foreseeable future.

California

Lauren Knight at University of California Irvine - Irvine, CA

What are your college's plans for the fall? Online Only

How are your acting/singing/dancing courses working for online? Via Zoom and/or self-tapes

How are shows being planned for online? Zoom and filmed song selections

Florida

Christina Samanie at University of Central Florida - Orlando, FL

What are your college's plans for the fall? Hybrid (In-person/online)

How are your acting/singing/dancing courses working for the hybrid format? No singing in person. Dance classes are in person. Each person has their individual square in the studio socially distanced and with masks on.

How have the online courses been? Online Musical Theatre Vocal Techniques are tough. We can't meet with our accompanist which is difficult. She records our music and sends it to us to practice with. Instead of performing for the class, we record videos of our progress and work with the professor over Zoom. I miss meeting one on one with the accompanist and professor. Meeting/Singing over Zoom just isn't the same.

What on-campus safety precautions are in place for students? Masks are required all throughout campus, and there are various sanitization stations outside of every classroom. Each class is properly cleaned and sanitized before/after each class.

How are shows being planned for online? Some shows are live staged readings over Zoom & others are pre recorded over zoom and will have a release week available for streaming.

Noah Skurtu at University of Miami - Miami, FL

What are your college's plans for the fall? Hybrid (In-person/online)

How are your acting/singing/dancing courses working for the hybrid format? My acting classes are in person with mask use and social distancing on stage, singing classes are online so we can sing without masks, and my dance class is also online.

What on-campus safety precautions are in place for students? Mandatory masks, social distancing, indoor public spaces closed, hand sanitizer stations everywhere, random temperature checks by security, and a daily symptom checker that students have to fill out each day.

How are shows being planned for online? Not sure yet. Possibly both over zoom and filmed.

How did auditions for upcoming shows take place? We submitted video auditions and did not have callbacks. They cast us from the video auditions.

Indiana

Brittany Davis at Anderson University - Anderson, IN

What are your college's plans for the fall? Hybrid (In-person/online)

How are your acting/singing/dancing courses working for the hybrid format? Meeting in person to social distance / zooming for acting, in person but distanced for dance classes, and voice lessons are online.

What on-campus safety precautions are in place for students? Wellness check-in daily and hand sanitizer and wipes provided.

How are shows being planned for online? Livestream with all of the mics spaced out and limited crew.

Maryland

Leah Packer at University of Maryland - College Park, MD

What are your college's plans for the fall? Hybrid (In-person/online)

How are your acting/singing/dancing courses working for the hybrid format? Very weird over zoom!! Lot of focus on technique

What have you personally decided to do this semester? Opt out of in-person courses, online/remote only

Will you still have online productions? A lot were cancelled but there are still a few online over Zoom

Michigan

Nora Rhein at Wayne State University - Detroit, MI

What are your college's plans for the fall? Hybrid (In-person/online)

What have you personally decided to do this semester? Opt out of in-person courses, online/remote only

Will you still have online productions? Podcasts, filmed, zoom

Missouri

Holden Childress at University of Central Missouri - Warrensburg, MO

What are your college's plans for the fall? Hybrid (In-person/online)

What on-campus safety precautions are in place for students? The entire city of Warrensburg has a mask mandate in place, so masks are a must on campus. Classes have also been set up to allow for social distancing, with most courses splitting meeting times between two smaller groups of people. COVID-19 testing is also available on campus.

How are shows taking place in the fall semester? Shows will be taking place both in person and online.

What safety measurements are being made for in-person productions? Shows will be performed outdoors and audience members will be social distancing.

Will you still have online productions? Online shows will be taking place on Zoom or performed remotely and streamed online.

How did auditions for upcoming shows take place? Auditions and callbacks for shows took place over Zoom.

New Jersey

Holly Stefanik at Drew University - Madison, NJ

What are your college's plans for the fall? Online only

What have you personally decided to do this semester? Opt out of in-person courses, online/remote only

How will you have online productions? Zoom plays and radio plays

How did auditions for upcoming shows take place? We sent in audition self tapes and callbacks were on Zoom

New York

Maura Consedine at Saint John's University - Queens, NY

What are your college's plans for the fall? Hybrid (In-person/online)

What on-campus safety precautions are in place for students? Students coming from hot spot states had to quarantine for 14 days before the rest of the student body arrived. Now, students are asked to do a self screening and temperatures check through the SJU app before coming to campus or going to class. Capacity is limited in classrooms, and the dining hall is takeout only. Also, students are prohibited from being in rooms/buildings other than their own.

What have you personally decided to do this semester? Opt out of in-person courses, online/remote only

How will you have online productions? We are doing a cabaret that will be presented as a pre-recorded event on Youtube Live, and a play shown in a documentary format

How did auditions for upcoming shows take place? Filmed my audition video, sent it through a google form, and had callbacks over zoom

Katy Dara at SUNY Albany - Albany, NY

What are your college's plans for the fall? Hybrid (In-person/online)

How are your acting/singing/dancing courses working for the hybrid format? I am not personally taking any performance classes this semester. However, my other friends in the theatre program have performance classes such as Acting and Voice Lessons online, but a few scattered classes are in-person

What on-campus safety precautions are in place for students? We had to get tested for COVID before moving in. We couldn't move into on-campus housing or attend classes on the campus unless we had proof of a negative result. We must wear masks in public spaces, and do a health screening each day before going onto the campus. Classes that are in-person have social distancing markers on each seat so students don't sit too close. They will also be doing pooled testing with saliva throughout the semester.

How will you have online productions? Plays via Zoom

Shaun Collins at Syracuse University - Syracuse, NY

What are your college's plans for the fall? Hybrid (In-person/online)

How are your acting/singing/dancing courses working for the hybrid format? Each professor is taking the hybrid approach differently depending on their comfort levels. Some professors, like my Musical Theatre Performance class, is small enough to fit all seven of us in the room safely for warm ups, techniques, and "light singing," but on working days, we will be "Zooming-In" to present our material while the rest of the class that is not presenting that day will observe us in-person via a large monitor. Some of my classes, such as dance classes, are doing alternating attendance days in order to still have the benefit of in-person instruction, while adhering to social distancing precautions. Classes that are suitable for online instruction (ie. lectures) have been moved online, and unfortunately, our private voice lessons are taking place online. While not ideal, the Department of Drama voice faculty have researched and invested into software that allows us to sing live with accompaniment our voice teacher plays on their end of the feed.

What on-campus safety precautions are in place for students? The university offered us a kit of masks, a thermometer, and other small sanitary items at our check in. We are being pool tested frequently and the university has implemented a "Stay Safe Pledge" that outlines guidelines us, as students, can take to minimize the spread of the virus. Students from "hot states" (NY's Governor Cuomo mandated a list of states that must quarantine prior to moving into housing) and masks are required everywhere on campus. Hand sanitizer stations are everywhere around campus. Ventilation systems have been cleaned and upgraded to promote better airflow, and specifically within the Department of Drama, square spaces have been taped out in studios that designate where to dance/move. In other means of tracking the virus, the university and the greater central NY area is monitoring the waste and plans to use that as a means of finding and isolating potential outbreaks on-campus. Additionally, students need to fill out a brief health survey about symptoms and exposure to the virus. Failure to complete, or pass (ie. your answers are not problematic) prevents your ID card from working and you cannot access campus buildings.

How are you doing shows this semester? A mix of both online, pre-recorded, and outdoor (in-person) projects.

What safety measurements are being made for in-person productions? I am not involved in any in-person projects, so I am not sure of the specifics and logistics of what measures are being taken. I know in-person projects are happening in outdoor venues.

How will you have online productions? A mix of both Zoom and pre-recorded means of delivery. It is dependent on each project and the vision of each director.

What else is your school focusing on for fall productions? In addition to traditional "show" projects, the Department of Drama is also workshopping two new works. Also, students within the department are also taking this opportunity to create their own work and have reached out to people to participate in helping bring their works to life.

How did auditions for upcoming shows take place? Performance majors in the Department of Drama submitted digital auditions in April 2020. All callbacks happened the following two weeks through various digital means.

North Carolina

Katelen Hankins at William Peace University - Raleigh, NC

What are your college's plans for the fall? Hybrid (In-person/online)

How are your acting/singing/dancing courses working for the hybrid format? Acting class is in person with a small size (10 people, including teacher), and voice is through google hangout with a dedicated room for the student in 30 minute blocks.

What on-campus safety precautions are in place for students? When possible, everyone is in a single without a roommate. Masks are required for everywhere outside your personal dorm room. Hand sanitizer is provided in every classroom and required before entering the cafe. Every morning you have to do a symptom/wellness check in before being approved to be on campus. No off campus guests allowed in buildings, one guest max allowed in rooms, five guests max allowed hanging out together indoors. One student is allowed in a teacher's office at one time.

What is your school focusing on for fall productions? We are doing something called a 'Peace Performance', where we are basically instructing ourselves to make a 5 minute performance on something that we haven't tried before. We will have periodically meetings with teachers for help, but its very much like a self-taught lesson.

Anything else to add? Our school is very small so that's how we were able to still have a lot of in person classes with a max amount of 9 students with 1 teacher. I feel like we made a lot of steps even with our small size - this is my second year here, and it's incredibly different than my first.

Ohio

Isabella Schiavon at Baldwin Wallace University - Berea, OH

What are your college's plans for the fall? Hybrid (In-person/online)

How are your acting/singing/dancing courses working for the hybrid format? Singing is completely online.

What have you personally decided to do this semester? Opt out of in-person courses, online/remote only

How will you have online productions? It will be filmed, edited and released in an online platform

Caroline Conard at Xavier University - Cincinnati, OH

What are your college's plans for the fall? Hybrid (In-person/online)

How are your acting/singing/dancing courses working for the hybrid format? It is the professor's choice on if/when they want to meet

What on-campus safety precautions are in place for students? Lots of hand sanitizer throughout buildings. Signs around campus and buildings.

How will you have online productions? We have a team of all students and one professional, who is the producer. We will be devising and rehearsing via Zoom. Our shows will be recorded once finished.

Pennsylvania

Mary Felix at Point Park University - Pittsburgh, PA

What are your college's plans for the fall? Hybrid (In-person/online)

How are your acting/singing/dancing courses working for the hybrid format? Certain classes that are taught by those who are considered "high-risk" individuals are taught fully online while the other classes are taught in-ground with limited numbers of students. If students want to learn fully remote, they can.

What on-campus safety precautions are in place for students? We are to wear masks at all time, we must take temperatures daily, we must maintain social-distancing at all times. Classrooms and work spaces are furnished with social-distancing kept in mind.

Matthew Green at Temple University - Philadelphia, PA

What are your college's plans for the fall? Hybrid (In-person/online)

How are your acting/singing/dancing courses working for the hybrid format? Some acting classes are in person, all singing (classes, choirs, and voice lessons) are online but students can reserve practice room for individual, masked singing. Dance classes in the theater department are all online, however a few students can use the rehearsal hall for dance class if they don't have enough space to dance where they live. The university is currently on a two week suspension of all in person classes however so everything is online for the time being. -Matthew

What on-campus safety precautions are in place for students? 2 cloth masks are provided for every student, COVID tests are provided for students living on campus, students are encouraged to self monitor their health, masks are required everywhere on campus, there is hand sanitizing stations at various locations on campus

How will you have online productions? Zoom shows, live streamed through YouTube, some productions may be pre-recorded later in the semester

Want to join our student blogger team for the fall/winter? Apply today!
Deadline to apply is Wednesday, September 30 at 11:59pm ET.

Share with us how your college is doing HERE.


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