As with all UNO students, the staff of The Gateway had their world turned upside down on the afternoon of Thursday, March 12, when remote learning was officially announced and the threat of COVID-19 became tangible.
Editor-in-chief Leta Lohrmeyer was in her Magazine Production course when she received the now infamous email – a bombshell that brought class to a standstill.
“We stopped class and just talked about all the repercussions for the rest of the time,” Lohrmeyer said. “Afterwards, I walked out in a daze. That was the last day I’d be in ASH for a very long time.”
Though upset at first, Lohrmeyer admits that she knew what needed to be done (distance learning, wearing masks, restrictions) was necessary.
“I thought, ‘okay, this is real, and I need to accept it,’” Lohrmeyer said. “However, I was disappointed about all the missed opportunities and losses that I would experience. I couldn’t stop thinking about the way things should have or could have been if the pandemic never happened. I still think about it, even a year into this whole ordeal.”
Digital Editor Claire Redinger recalls returning to school after a brief trip to Kansas City with her roommate, finding ASH in chaos.
“The halls were filled with people talking and checking their phones,” Redinger said. “It was unreal.”
Like Lohrmeyer, she too felt the initial pangs of sorrow at what she would be losing.
“I remember being so sad,” Redinger said. “I was really enjoying the semester. I loved my classes and my classmates. I [thought] I would have more time with the graduating seniors. I wanted to control my circumstances, but I couldn’t. I was just shocked that life as we knew it was coming to a halt.”
Photo and Imagery Editor Kylie Squiers can specifically speak to the seniors’ strife, as she was with many in MaverickPR when the university’s email arrived.
“When we got the news, we were all very flustered and confused,” Squiers said. “Once we did research on what was going on, I saw a sudden shift of energy in the room, as it was mainly filled with seniors graduating in May. [They] realized this was the last in-person class of their undergrad career and became very upset and almost existential, if you will. Lots of ‘lasts’ ended sooner than expected for people.”
Digital Content Manager Natalie Veloso believes that she wasn’t quite as blindsided as others, as she had been monitoring the choices other colleges were making during this time.
“I had already been mentally preparing myself for the possibility of remote learning for the rest of the semester after seeing other universities make that decision, but [my] overwhelming feeling was uncertainty,” Veloso said. “As global lockdowns and mask mandates were gradually announced, I realized that everyone was in the same boat. It was certainly a scary feeling, but there was some comfort in realizing that literally everyone just needed to take it one day at a time.”
Layout Editor Kaitlynn Kool perhaps sums up students’ earliest emotions best, recalling how many thought the pandemic would just “pass by.”
“At the time, I felt excited about an unexpected extra break,” Kool said. “I also thought things were gonna blow over within a month, so context and hindsight has proved to be important!”