When a nationwide stay-at-home order was placed this past March, universities across the country went virtual with their learning. For some, the changes were seamless, but for professors who required work that could not be submitted via e-mail, the transition was not smooth.
A public survey conducted by Americans for the Arts established 88% of Americans believe that arts are part of a well-rounded education for K-12 students and 83% agreed that art studies are important past a high school level and in the adult community. Only 61% of people felt that the arts were readily available for learning in their schools and communities, though, and with Covid-19 causing closures and social distancing, art education has become harder to find and participate in.
Dennis Sipiorski, a ceramics professor at Southeastern, was required to continue teaching even when students did not have the option to create pottery. “Classes were not even to the midterm when campus closed and students were not allowed to come to campus to pick up their previous work or any clay to continue to work,” Sipiorski said.
Sipiorski said that the changes were devastating for ceramics since students were unable to work from home. Despite the university going through uncharted waters, art teachers across the country were all faced with the same challenges.
As a result of students not finishing their work in the spring semester, Sipiorski has reported lower enrollment rates for his upper level ceramics classes for the fall. “Anyone who was unable to finish their work from the spring is welcome to come to the studio when it’s open and finish. They aren’t abandoned,” he said. The ceramics studio is open from 5-9 pm Monday through Thursday and 10-4 Friday and Saturday for those wanting to finish their work.
Kailey Dufour, a graphic design student at Southeastern said that her professors struggled to help students with projects because students did not have the proper supplies to complete their work. In addition, the delayed start of the fall semester due to Hurricane Laura has impacted students’ ability to receive guidance for work.
“What helps me complete my work to the best of my skills and potential is having an in-class mentor to provide step-by-step guidance as needed,” said Dufour. Dufour is one of many students who faced difficulty receiving one-on-one help from professors throughout project based courses such as graphic design.