COVID-19 has affected almost everything in our world to the point that we have had to change the ways we do things entirely.
One of the major problems and challenges we are facing today is reopening schools for our youth. Lots of schools have moved completely online and virtual while some are still trying to come up with solutions to get their students on campus.
Since Keene State College is a small school, under 5,000 students, getting students in the classroom is more realistic and probable than some bigger schools. While Keene State is working towards this, different departments must adapt in different ways. The arts department at Keene State has had quite the challenge due to the fact that the material and curriculum is very hands on.
Chair of the Theater and Arts Department Céline Peron has been at Keene State College for 31 years and talked about how the school is approaching the situation. She said, “I’m teaching an in-person class, but I had to completely revise my approach due to COVID-19. My course this semester is puppetry. This is a skill-based hands-on course.
Under COVID conditions, this is not possible. To practice social distancing, I have created a series of instructional videos with step-by-step instructions on how to design and build a string marionette. To limit contact, I also provided each student with an individually labeled large bin containing all the necessary supplies. If we were to have to move to online instruction, students could bring their bins home and complete the course work with the aid of the instructional videos and guidance through Zoom. I feel that this semester will bring some challenges, but as theatre artists we excel in finding creative solutions.”
While there is hope, this coming semester or even year is going to bring many challenges. The best thing Keene State College’s faculty and students can do is keep a positive attitude and make the best of what we have. Art and design Professor Paul McMullan shared his thoughts on how the printmaking classes have changed due to the pandemic. He said, “The Printmaking Studio has expanded into two studio/classrooms. This allows for four students in each classroom to work six feet apart. The tables with more than one student have plexiglass dividers on them. The Redfern Print studio is open 7-11p.m. daily so students can use the studio outside of class hours. No more than 4 students per room following safety protocol. It’s a different semester but one that will lead to new ways of creating and thinking.”
Art and Design professor Lynn Richardson who teaches drawing and 3-D design talked about the personal challenge’s teachers are facing, specifically teaching virtually. Richardson said “I have not done online classes but am currently enrolled in a training course on developing online curriculum. My students really need these courses to be face to face in order to focus on creating works as an escape from working at the computer. The college has been very supportive in getting us some of the tools we need.”
COVID-19 has surely affected Keene State College in many ways, however the Art Department is one of the few parts that has taken a harder hit. Most work and material is very hands on and the classroom is needed for supplies. While this might hinder learning to a degree, everyone at Keene and in the art department are keeping their hopes high and taking the necessary precautions.
Harrison Paletta can be contacted at: