Students suddenly back in their Fairfield County homes from shuttered colleges are not pacing with worries over their health. Their education is on their mind as is the fallout from social distancing. What health concerns they have extend to older people who are more at risk.
This is not surprising among the 4-to-24-year-old Gen-Z demographic, which is not living up to the entitlement myth that often befalls a younger generation as it comes of age.
Jared Sullivan who attends Norwalk Community College, which is on spring break this week though the college will remain closed until the remainder of the spring semester because of the coronavirus pandemic, said: "My biggest concern is contracting coronavirus and inadvertently passing it on to people with weak immune systems."
His view is consistent with a 2019 study by Girls With Impact about this age group wanting to make a positive difference in the world.
Everyone by now knows the virus is serious and even deadly to those over 60 and people with serious medical conditions, which is why the University of Connecticut junior Edison Escobar, of Stamford, also considers its impact on seniors.
"My biggest concern is that enough people around the world are safe and get the proper treatment," said Escobar. " I’m not too concerned about my health as I’ve heard it mostly affects older people and people with health issues."
Like many in his age group, Escobar is most concerned with his education and future plans.
As millions of college students have done this week, he's resumed his classes off-campus, remotely but with a few bumps. He's noticed that some of the teachers, particularly those new to virtual-learning platforms like Blackboard, are having difficulty adapting to online teaching.
"I think students don't have too much difficulty adjusting," added Escobar, "but it is a lot of pressure on the teachers to adjust all the classwork into online work."
And for him, a bigger worry is financing for his education.
"I’m more concerned about how we are going to have to sign up for classes and housing for next semester and whether or not we will be getting refunds for housing this semester," said Escobar who dorms on the Storrs campus.
With more deaths and people getting sick from coronavirus, the country faced more sobering news on Tuesday, March 16 when President Trump urged everyone to avoid groups of more than 10 and warned the crisis could last into the summer.
Sullivan noted he'd miss attending classes in person at Norwalk Community College (NCC) because the social engagement is important to him.
"I am not worried about my health. I exercise on a regular basis and eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and limit fatty foods," said Sullivan.
He added that he's worried more about the social distancing. Sullivan transferred to NCC from a larger private university and enjoys the social life he's developed at the Norwalk campus. Attending college for him is certainly about taking good classes, but it's just as important to him to build a bigger and better social life than his previous college offered.
"I was constructing a great social life for myself up until the shutdown and fear that this virus will set my progress back by a few months at least," Sullivan said.
Meanwhile, one of the professors at NCC, Joan Fitzsimmons, expressed some practical concerns while she moves to online teaching for her photography courses.
"How do I adequately address the needs of my darkroom class?" she wondered. "Much cannot be replicated online."
Moreover, Fitzsimmons expressed reasonable concerns over her own health.
"My husband and I are older and I have mild asthma," the professor admitted.
Fitzsimmons recently came back from professional conferences and luckily is "asymptomatic," but she is limiting where she goes to avoid exposure to coronavirus.