It was the Friday of Spring Break, and I had just woken up to get an email stating that we were to resume school as regular that upcoming Monday, despite the concern with the Coronavirus which had begun to be the full-blown pandemic that we are all familiar with by now. My friend Crispy and I had been contemplating on this dreaded email the night before whilst sitting around the campfire just outside Grand Canyon National Park. “Bummer gotta start driving back tonight”, we said and hit the Bright Angel Trail. It was only but a mile and a half down when I got another email stating that we’d have an extra two weeks of Spring Break, tight! It was a nice relief to be able to know I could stay adventuring out West for a longer time, but little did I know it was really the start of a global pandemic that would change everyone’s livelihood. It’s bittersweet, but the pandemic allowed my friend and I to go see Death Valley and its otherworldly scenery, stay with some friends in Fresno, and make our way all the way to Big Sur and take a dip in the Pacific Ocean.
Grateful for our extended time but now fully concerned about the pandemic, we decided to make our way back to Athens with a week to get back to the reality of things before we resumed online classes. Most folks I’ve talked to that are within Warnell or not haven’t been the greatest fan of online classes, probably because we love to be engaged and out in the field learning, not from a computer screen. I can admit its been a struggle for me to stay engaged with online learning, I know I definitely gain a lot more from being in class than watching a lecture or PowerPoint online, but its what we’ve got to do to stay healthy and safe. We recently got an email saying that we’d be going to back to school in the Fall; however, it is met with a measure of skepticism as everything still seems to be unsure and unlikely at the moment. Thankfully for Warnell, it won’t be a huge transition to smaller class sizes because we are already accustomed to that luxury, however as the Dean has said we must take everything in stride and do our best for our Warnell family. In the meantime, as the semester winds down and has some free time I think I’ll go canoeing with my friends and get up into the mountains to enjoy the beauty of the natural world.
Robert is a senior Forestry major here at Warnell