By: Lilla Batson
Just as the world begins to think we can finally move past the COVID-19 pandemic, another new variant of the virus reminds us that it’s not going anywhere.
Students at City College who participate in the arts have had to adapt more than the average student in regards to online learning, and despite hopes that we would find ourselves back in class this semester, the Omicron variant has delayed this once again.
The Omicron variant is the latest and most dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States. Scientists have found that this variant differs from previous ones such as the Delta, due to its milder symptoms. It’s level of contagion has also changed – the Omicron is more easily spread from person to person, and can also infect people who are vaccinated.
The defenses developed to fight Omicron have not changed, despite the ever-mutating virus we are learning to adapt to, and evidence shows that wearing masks, social distancing, and getting your vaccines are the best ways to keep Omicron at bay.
While each person at City College has had their own share of difficulties with adapting to the latest COVID variant and the restrictions it brings, there are certain departments, such as Music, that have had to reconstruct the way they orchestrate their entire program.
Music Department Chair Madeline Mueller stated that while solo practices such as guitar, voice, and piano are more easily done through online learning, the true struggle is with ensembles, which is a group of musicians who perform together. She also stated that one of the main components of music is live performance.
Mueller noted the experience of hearing musicians play together live is incomparable. “After 4 months of no live performances, the first time back and hearing the live music, I said wow!”
Mueller also saw positive impacts from the pandemic, however. ”I don’t want to let go of the silver lining that I’ve learned through having to adapt to COVID-19. I’m hoping that we keep online learning as we return to school in the fall. I don’t want to give up the ability to use remote teaching,” she said.
Mueller longs for live classes but also has some hesitation. “While I can’t wait to get back to in-person classes, it has to be safe.”
“I value what we’ve learned in music and technology, but I do miss the live sound,” she said. “I hope we get the best of both worlds, eventually.”
A Staggered Return
Chair of the Arts Department Stephanie Robison has had a very different experience with Omicron. “This has not affected our department. Classes scheduled to happen face-to-face have all been happening unaffected – fingers crossed that this continues,” she said.
City College is in stage 1 of the CCSF Campus Reopening Plan, which states that CCSF is open to “all employees and a limited number of students for services and instructional support, but not public, or non-essential public events.” COVID-19 precautions will continue to be implemented while City College moves into Stage 2 of the reopening plan.