Several of you have asked to read this full post. Originally I had it password protected as a draft and planned to add to it as I went along. Now that the semester is over, I found the time to finish it up and add to it.
Since the world is ending and all, people might be curious about how college life at Pensacola works amid the coronavirus pandemic.
To the best of my memory, here’s the current timeline of COVID-19 and its affect on the Pensacola Christian College community.
Thursday, March 5, 2020.
The Pensacola News Journal announces a Santa Rosa County man presumably contracted the virus and was moved to Baptist Hospital in Escambia County (the same county PCC is in).
Friday, March 6, 2020.
The Santa Rosa man dies from coronavirus.
Wednesday, March 11, 2020.
Rumor cycles around campus that the college may switch to online classes. I was in the VPA working on a grad project when my classmate told me and the others in the room that her husband texted. According to him, there was a meeting scheduled for chapel the next morning-and it would be live-streamed. On top of that, Bob Jones University also announced that they would livestream an announcement at the same time.
According to another friend, rumor had it that BJU would be officially switching to online classes after the announcement.
Thursday, March 12, 2020.
President Shoemaker makes an announcement to the undergraduate students (and their parents via livestream). He announces that as far as things were currently concerned, they were not yet transitioning to online classes, however, that decision could change at any moment. He briefs the students on some of his contingency plans and assured those who were international students or those who didn’t have the ability to go home that the college would provide housing for them if need be.
At the same time, Dr. Steve Pettit announces that Bob Jones would switch to online classes within the week, and that nursing students, teachers, those in teaching internships, and GAs would remain on campus to complete their duties.
Friday, March 13, 2020.
The students at PCC get a text and phone call from the emergency campus-wide communications system at dinner. I and a number of friends were eating in Varsity when the message came through and we all immediately grabbed our phones. I played the recording of Shoemaker announcing there would be a meeting at 10 AM the following morning, and that the county had advised all universities and colleges to close.
The CDC limits group gatherings to 250 people or fewer.
Saturday, March 14, 2020.
Shoemaker announces that PCC would be transitioning to online classes, effective Monday, March 22. GAs, teachers, and staff would remain on campus, along with anyone who wished to stay and work for 15 hours or more. If students work the requested number of hours, he would give them free room and board while on campus. Online classes would be distributed via WebEx.
My brothers spend the rest of the morning and some of the afternoon deciding whether they would return home or stay on campus to finish their classwork. They decide to stay, along with the majority of their friend group.
Sunday, March 15, 2020.
We attend our first livestream church service, affectionally dubbed “Corona Baptist Church” by a friend of mine. Pastor Redlin preaches to an empty auditorium while students, staff, and church members attempt to connect to Facebook live. After a few glitches, everyone is able to connect.
There is no evening service.
The CDC limits group gatherings to 50 or fewer, and there are 149 cases reported.
Pastor Kenny Baldwin begins to feel symptoms of what would later be discovered as coronavirus.
Monday, March 16, 2020.
Crystal and I raid the donation rooms set up all around campus for students leaving the premises. By far, it’s the best haul of donations we’ve seen, since many of the students left in a hurry and didn’t want to deal with finding places for their clothes.
I also visit Walmart for the first time, shocked by the empty shelves.
The first positive test for coronavirus appears in Escambia County, according to the Pensacola News Journal.
Abeka offers its homeschooling curriculum to any school that’s temporarily closed or parent in need of schooling materials.
The recommended group size drops to 10 per room, as suggested by Trump.
Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
A Navy Federal employee tests presumptive positive for the coronavirus in Escambia County, the bank being less than two miles away from campus.
The Republican Presidential Primaries are held at the St. John Building.
Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
The governor of New York, the governor of California, and Dana Bash praise Trump for his handling of the country amidst the coronavirus, despite his criticism only days before by the Democratic Party.
Four individuals from the PCC community display symptoms of coronavirus and are taken off campus to a nearby isolated location (presumably Baptist Hospital). Their names are not known.
My housemate is relocated from work in Advertising Copywriting to the nursery.
Thursday, March 19, 2020.
I receive news that I’m relocated from Advertising Video to Environmental Services. I come up with a list of things I’m thankful for despite the virus and encourage others to do the same on Instagram.
My friend Courtney and I have supper on the front porch of my house and watch the sunset as Crystal and her friend does something similar on the lawn across the parking lot. We watch Frozen II, which has been released early in an attempt to “bring joy to people,” according to Disney.
A whistleblower claims that the recovery rate in China is a lie from the government.
Friday, March 20, 2020.
I take two friends who were roommates last year to Walmart. The eggs have been since restocked from my last trip, but now there are signs across the store asking shoppers to limit their purchases to one per item.
My family discovers Instagram video calls, and I get a care package from a friend’s mom because her son returned home and didn’t need it.
We learn from the grapevine that out of the four people showing symptoms on campus, one was a dorm resident. The others were possible town students. The dorm student tested negative. The others remained unknown.
My housemate Celeste and I take a brief trip to the Pensacola Beach, since it will be closing the following day to visitors due to the virus. We watch the sunset and enjoy the fresh air.
My friend gets married in the Crawford Chapel in the Crowne Center and has her reception in the Commons. Her wedding cake is a cheese cake from Common Grounds. Dr. Atkins was the minster, Mrs. Moses was the wedding coordinator. There was a best man, a bride’s maid, a photographer, and three friends in the audience for a total of ten people in the room.
Sunday, March 22, 2020.
Pastor Redlin preaches his second message in quarantine, and this time, the livestream team is able to also film the evening service. They promise to follow up with a Wednesday service as well.
Monday, March 23, 2020.
Online classes begin, and so does my new work schedule. By this time, everyone who was traveling back home has left the campus and we’re all trying to figure out our new schedules.
Palms Grille has reduced hours and seating has been removed from the dining area.
Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
Trump calls for the economy to open up by Easter. Crystal, Courtney, and I have at this time started a bet onto when coronavirus would be over. My prediction was that things would start going back to normal by Easter and would be totally finished by the end of May. Courtney said between the end of May and mid July. Crystal expected it to continue until Christmas.
Wednesday, March 25, 2020.
We decide to do the new takeout supper option from Four Winds and Varsity. The meal option allows you to fill a takeout tray with food from the two dining halls and eat it in your room or around campus.
Wednesday church is streamed at the usual time, but it can be watched at our convenience.
Saturday, March 28, 2020.
Propaganda signs go up around campus and on the connection screens reminding us all to social distance and stay away from human contact. I immediately decide I hate them.
Furthermore, the campus begins to ask those sitting in the dining halls to have one empty seat in between each person to help with social distancing. Things get complicated when dining staff asks married couples to split apart.
Sunday, March 29, 2020.
The country begins to adapt, creating concepts like virtual concerts. John Krasinski premieres his world-stopping positivity show, Some Good News, to YouTube, disrupting the negative coronavirus vibes to focus on happier news coverage.
Monday, March 30, 2020.
My home state of Virginia issues a stay-at-home order, effective until June 10th. Florida, in comparison, avoids a single broad-issued lockdown, with DeSantis leaving it up to counties and cities.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
Instagram BINGO! and other online social media games become a trendy way to pass the time.
Wednesday, April 1, 2020.
Dan and I take a trip to Steak-n-Shake at midnight as a farewell to our freedom. DeSantis announces that a “safer-at-home” order will take effect the following night at midnight.
Thursday, April 2, 2020.
Other stores, in addition to Walmart, have taken up social distancing strategies. Home Depot has signs regularly posted along the walkways, as well as employees stationed outside the entrances to make sure only a certain number of shoppers enter the building at a time.
Hobby Lobby attempts to work within regulations by hanging plastic screens between cashiers and customers.
Guests are banned from coming onto PCC campus, and a virtual commencement is announced for May 8, 2020. Several departments on campus have switched to working from home, including Crystal.
All tests for possible coronavirus patients in the college community have returned negative.
Tuesday, April 8, 2020.
Floor markings appear on the carpet of the dining halls, and people are required to stand six feet apart. Dining workers are also required to wear masks, and I realized I have a potent case of “maskaphobia.”
Thursday, April 9, 2020.
A Mississippi church attempts a drive-in service, to which the police fine each member $500.
Saturday, April 12, 2020.
Our friend Alana has a birthday, and her mom sends us all quarantine party favors to help celebrate with her via FaceTime. We each goet a mug cake and a candle, and we all attempt to sing “Happy Birthday” over the PCC wifi.
Wednesday, April 17, 2020.
Trump announces a reopening plan for the country in three phases.
Friday, April 18, 2020.
Alana gets a job back home and has to leave the campus. We all say goodbye to her and wish her well with distance learning back in Texas.
April 20, 2020.
Escambia County asks its residents to fill out public response forms in regards to reopening the beaches. I submit my request that they reopen quickly.
Saturday, April 25, 2020.
Graduating seniors and grad students get a commencement box with their yearbook and regalia. Carolyne knows exactly what to do with hers, while others wander campus and take graduation photos in their cap and gowns.
Dr. Erickson and Dr. Massihi speak out and call for a reopening of the economy, but YouTube CENSORS their video repeatedly, even as the public continues to re-upload the press conference. (Since when does YouTube get to tell us what’s true and what’s not? Isn’t that for the American people to decide??)
Tuesday, April 28, 2020.
The Escambia County officials vote to reopen the beaches. The decision was made over livestream for the sake of the community’s interest.
PCC’s literary publication, Fountains, is converted to a digital release. And although there was no book sale or hard copy, I, my fellow senior editor, and our publishing teacher hopes that a small number will be printed for our personal keepsakes when the virus ends. In the meantime, you can now read Fountains 2020 here.
Friday, May 1, 2020.
Pensacola beaches reopen, but a Grim Reaper protestor haunts the Florida coasts.
Sunday, May 3, 2020.
We go to underground church at a friend’s house. We’ve officially begun calling our group meetings “Corona Baptist Church” (or CBC for short). We slowly show up over the course of thirty minutes or so, and I feel uncomfortable waiting on the porch out in the open, since we also carry instruments and food: a clear sign of a gathering. I’m assured that the neighborhood hosts bigger parties than we do and that no one will be upset.
It becomes truly an illegal church service, though, when I realize I’m the eleventh person in the group.
Monday, May 4, 2020.
I and my video team film parts of the Abeka Academy virtual graduation, and I get to explore the Crowne Centre catwalks on the clock.
We also get a short fifteen minutes to celebrate May The Fourth with limited edition creme sodas from a local drink shop in Pensacola.
Florida begins its Phase 1 reopening plan and dining areas can operate at 25% capacity.
Thursday, May 7, 2020.
The semester ends and my parents drive up to get my brothers. We all go off to the newly-opened beach to celebrate the end of the semester.
Sunday, May 10, 2020.
The first in-person Campus Church service takes place on Sunday morning. Due to the upkeep in keeping the sanctuary clean, Pastor Redlin explains there will be no in-person evening service (however it will be live-streamed), but everyone will have the chance to meet again on Wednesday night.
Pastor Redlin announces that the Campus Church invested in $30,000 in gift cards to local businesses and encouraged church members to pick them up so they can give back to the community after Phase 1 allowed small businesses to open back up.
Monday, May 18, 2020.
Our church group decides to go to La Hacienda, a local restaurant, to show our support for the community, small businesses, and the economy. Some of us got to use our Campus Church gift cards for the meal.
Wednesday, May 20, 2020.
Graffiti Pizza reopens its doors and Dan, Crystal, Courtney, and I all go get two large pizzas.
Friday, May 22, 2020.
A Mississippi church is burned down by stay-at-home vandals in protest of Christians going to church.
Meanwhile, President Trump announces that houses of worship are considered essential and calls on governors to let their people go.
Saturday, May 23, 2020.
The Graduate Assistants at PCC get off their work obligations to travel home. I and Dan take the long 15-hour road trip back to Virginia.