Four years since the world shut down

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people live. In 2020, people had to stay home and only go out if they had to. School went from in-person to virtual. Traveling to another country was out of the question. 

But in 2024, people can leave their houses whenever they want to go to work or school, school is back in person and the travel ban lifted in 2021 for international visitors to the U.S.  

The pandemic tested professors’ and teachers’ teaching skills, and with teaching classes online, they had to adapt to this new schooling method quickly. And for choir students, teachers and classes, it was more difficult.

MSU choir professor Elisabeth Cherland said teaching online was like teaching into a black hole, and it wasn’t much better when they came back in person with masks. 

“You have no real sense if anybody was actually listening or engaging out there. You didn’t know if you’re making an impact at all. It sucked the energy,” said Cherland. “With the masks, it was pretty disconnected because people had a hard time hearing other people until they sang even softer. We were making music together but not hearing each other and not standing close to each other.” 

Coral Cousins was in her high school history class when she learned about COVID-19, but it was before it spread to the United States. She said she thought it was just an extension of spring break. 

“At first, I didn’t think it was gonna be that big of a deal and that people were just overreacting,” said Cousins. “But then I heard about all the people dying, so I was like, oh, ‘maybe it’s not.’” 

Cousins said learning online during the pandemic “wasn’t up to par with what I would have learned in person. It made transitioning into college a little more difficult.” 

MSU student Tucker McKinney learned about the world-wide shutdown during spring break in Florida. He said it was weird to transition from in-person classes to completely online. He also said it was strange to transition from online to in-person classes when starting college. 

“I think just being by yourself for so long makes it harder to get back to being with people,” said McKinney. 

Cherland said that since the pandemic, she’s seen a higher level of anxiety among students and a higher level of disconnection from each other. In the choir space, they rely on interpersonal connections. 

“I see more people sort of on their phones at the beginning of rehearsal, and it takes a while to draw people kind of into the space and into the room. Singing together is a really great way to do that,” said Cherland. “We do get there, but it takes longer. Part of my job as a teacher has been facilitating some interpersonal interactions that are harder now.” 

Header photo: Four years ago, students and faculty were restricted from campus. Now, things have changed and are back to a new “normal.” (Davis Jensen/The Reporter)

Write to Lauren Viska at

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