Labor Day weekend could not come fast enough for some Southern Miss students. With classes still online and fewer breaks due to a condensed schedule, this semester has already been a whirlpool of the unknown.
“I feel like I am going into this semester blindly,” said Maxwell Menard, a sophomore double majoring in English and Sociology. Menard, like many students, doesn’t want the school to close down again, but the packed semester schedule on top of COVID-19 concerns only makes him feel overwhelmed.
Morgan Lawrence, a junior communications major, is also stressed adjusting to a new environment. Lawrence recently transferred from Southwest Mississippi Community College and is still learning the layout of the campus while adapting to online courses.
Like Lawrence, junior biology major Isis Williams is still figuring out how Southern Miss works after transferring from community college. With her graduation fast approaching, Williams said she feels pressured to get good grades to get into a good medical school.
Labor Day helped students relax and turn off their brains to everything going on. Various social media posts show students at parties, on the beach or throughout Hattiesburg generally having a good time. However, some are concerned with how students acted over Labor Day, as these same photos show people ignoring mask wearing or physical distancing protocols.
Several students were still able to keep social distancing in mind while having a good time, however. Williams said she made sure to physically distance with her friends while she went swimming over Labor Day. Menard took a road trip to Atlanta and said the change of scenery and open road helped relieve some of his stress.
Though Labor Day was certainly a good change of pace for many, it is not the only thing students have been doing to cope. Menard said he communicates with his friends and family for a sense of normality. Lawrence emphasized the importance of time management, as she schedules out a day to relax each week to stay on top of her assignments. Williams said she visits friends and family, takes walks or hikes and eats junk food to stay sane.
University organizations and sports have also been finding ways to keep students involved outside of physically isolating themselves. The Southern Miss Activities Council (SMAC) hosts virtual events every month for students. This past week, SMAC hosted an event called “SMAC & Paint” that students could attend for free. Students were able to pick up their own paint box and paint with other students virtually, providing much needed contact with others. The current football season has offered students another way to connect with others safely on or off the field, so long as they maintain social distancing guidelines.
Labor Day gave some students the break they needed. Others were not as satisfied with the three-day weekend, but they are pushing through.
“I am taking it one day at a time,” said Lawrence.