Specific communities of students at Illinois State University are subject to a harder change with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Student teachers are among these communities.

Senior education majors, no matter the type of education, are required to complete a certain amount of student teaching hours to graduate.

This normally takes at least a single semester. Some can take around two semesters. This time period typically tends to be their final semester, or semesters, at the university.

With other students only switching to online courses, student-teachers do not have that luxury.

All schools around the United States, no matter the grade level, have been shut down for a specific period of time.

This leaves student-teachers out of schools for at least those time periods, taking away from their hours required for graduation. 

Lexi Kelley, a senior special education major who is placed in Oak Forest, explained how this is impacting her.

“It’s hard because none of our supervisors know what is going to happen with each of our placements, or with student teachers in general, so it’s kind of stressful and scary," Kelley said.

"I don’t know if I’m going to see my student again, which is sad. The school, or Teacher Education Center, also doesn’t really know what’s going to happen. It’s all on a school-by-school basis, so each student-teacher is going to have a different plan of action due to their placement.”

These changes are adding to already difficult adjustments for college students.

“It really is stressful not to know what our role is with all of ISU moving to online classes, and I know some people think it’s unfair that we don’t have an option like that," Kelley added.

Alyssa Scott, who is also a senior, is an elementary education major placed in Romeoville Beverly Skoff Elementary.

“Obviously there are a lot of unanswered questions remaining, but they are constantly emailing us and giving us as much information as they can," said Scott.

Some student-teachers' lack of hours could hinder their learning experience. 

“For others who have not hit all of the requirements during student teaching, they have also discussed how they are in touch with the Board of Education to see how they can help," Scott said. 

Knowing that the Board of Education and ISU is helping them overcome these setbacks despite the ever-changing circumstances adds a sense of ease to these students, they said. 

Lily Haas, a senior elementary education major, has received many more setbacks than the normal education major.

She was supposed to student-teach abroad, specifically in Spain for the rest of the semester.

Due to the worldwide pandemic, she has since been sent back to the states. This has not only compromised her student-teaching program, but also caused her to self-quarantine for two weeks.

She elaborated on her extremely unique circumstances.

“Spain has such a lax culture that they really were like 'no preocupado,' and just told us to wash our hands when we asked about the virus," Haas said. 

"Within a few days, we found out that [Donald] Trump was going to close the borders, so we needed to get a flight home. The day after he made this announcement was when things began deteriorating in Spain. All of the bars and restaurants were closed early and many more people were wearing masks. At this point, I believe there were around 2,000 cases.”

Although she is faced with mass diversity despite what her peers are going through, Haas is thankfully home, healthy and safe. She said the university has been supportive through this entire process.

"This has been an issue for many other schools that I have friends in. I have enough hours within my major and my endorsement to graduate on time, thankfully.”

Communities within ISU, just like these student-teachers, are encouraged to stay in contact with their school placements as much as possible with any questions or concerns.

HAILEY BIALAS is a Features Reporter for The Vidette. She can be contacted at hgbiala@ilstu.edu Follow her on Twitter at @haileybialas 

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