APRIL 2020

Staying Connected

by Penny Powell

hands grouped in shape of heart with word TIPS on the side

Have you been able to maintain a sense of community during this time of social distancing? In the second article in this series, nursing professor Patricia McAnnally mentioned the importance of staying connected and suggested video calling as a tool for doing so if you do not have good opportunities for social interaction at home. McAnnally said, "We need face-to-face interactions, since that is what we are used to. Some people are suggesting playing games with your friends using Zoom. I think that is a great idea."

St. Augustine campus student Joe Akin uses online games and voice chat apps to stay connected with his friends. "During this quarantine, it’s important that we keep in touch with our friends," says Joe. "I set aside time to chat with them through a few different platforms. I use Xbox Live with most of my gaming friends.”

Nursing student Lillian Hiscock and her friends took playing "Cards Against Humanity" to another level when they got dressed up to do so. "I've been having FaceTime dates with friends," says Lillian.

With gyms being closed, Lillian has also been dressing up in her running gear lately and enjoying runs, while respecting social-distancing rules, of course. "It's a habit I hope to keep up even once everything goes back to normal," she says.

Office of Public Relations administrative assistant Bailey Hersey recently enjoyed a virtual birthday party for a close friend. "We dropped off birthday presents on her porch and then watched her open them later on Zoom," says Bailey. "It was nice, because we were able to have friends attend who may not have been able to otherwise do so because of distance." Bailey shared that virtual exercise even got added to the mix. "One friend at the birthday party is staying on a schedule during the quarantine, and since the party fell during her workout time, she decided to improvise and do her workout while attending the virtual party."

Understanding the benefits of human connection, Bailey continues, "Creating time to connect with others is so important during this time of isolation. Human beings are meant to interact. I find myself connecting with people I haven’t been able to see in person in years. I’m prioritizing time to virtually connect with my girlfriends each week, instead of each month."

The remaining section of this article is by nursing student Lillian Hiscock and dedicated to the SJR State nursing department and all of the frontline heroes for their courage and tireless efforts during COVID-19.

As a nursing student at St. Johns River State College, trying to maintain a sense of community has been pretty difficult. The members of my cohort and I got used to showing up to class in the same uniforms and being together for all of our classes, exams and clinicals, so we have grown to be very close. The fact that everything is on hold right now has been a huge change for all of us; however, we try to keep up with each other any way we can. We've moved all of our academic learning online just like everyone else and are holding virtual lectures. We go around and show our pets and check up on each other. Our professors have been very accommodating while trying to help us through this process.

Our Student Nurses Association is trying to host a virtual meeting sometime soon to check in on everyone and make sure we're all coping the best we can. I think everyone is just thankful to be able to finish online. Many of us are working in the health care field as we finish up the nursing program, so we're part of the community that way. I work at a local hospital, and as I was coming home from a shift, some neighbors thanked me for helping and working in health care. That was very nice, but I'm just so happy I have a job.

On a personal level, I've been meeting up with my best friend; we try to do something once a week while respecting social distancing rules. We went blueberry picking last week at a local farm. We're trying to buy food locally and also support small restaurants by ordering to-go food and having picnics.

It's so heartbreaking to see the economic effects of this situation; however, it is reassuring to see most people cooperating and doing their best to social distance. The community still thrives around me, and it's interesting to see people making it work. I have coworkers making masks for each other, and people reaching out to help find work for those who have been laid off.

I think the biggest takeaway for me throughout the Coronavirus quarantine is that as much as we love and rely on technology, nothing beats being able to sit in class for a really great lecture, see your friends – face-to-face, or hug your family members without worry. I can't wait for things to be more 'normal,' but in the meantime, I will continue to rely on my community and try to stay positive.



Susan Kessler
Director of Public Relations and Publications
(386) 312-4020