Students share their experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic and what they’ve missed out on


Though COVID-19 restrictions have eased significantly over the past year, limited programs at Capilano University (CapU) continue to offer fully-online classes only. For graduating students, the thought of ending their university life by sitting at home in front of a computer screen is a sobering thought — the university equivalent of ending an FI Grand Prix behind the safety car. 

For many, it means quite a few missed opportunities as well — students have far fewer chances to go out and meet professionals in their field, attend job fairs, corporate events, and more. A large part of university is the establishment of strong industry connections, and in many programs, COVID has made that all but impossible.

Skyler Zondag (she/her) is a final-year Musical Theatre student, and the pandemic has completely changed the fabric of her program. Many of her rehearsals were done over Zoom, and the all-too-important facial expressions in theatre have become nearly impossible to convey to the audience with current mask requirements.

“Most of my work requires being presented to an audience, and with theatres unable to reach their full capacity, we can’t get the same experience [as we would have] pre-COVID,” said Zondag. “Last year was definitely a challenge with only half of my cohort being allowed on campus at a time, and because of that, we had to learn over half of our musical over Zoom.”

CapU’s School of Performing Arts relies heavily on in-person classes and hands-on experiences. As the pandemic continues, more and more students and professors in the Performing Arts jurisdiction have considered a solo online learning process to be unproductive, especially in the stage acting sector. With the sheer level at which everyone in a musical depends on everybody else, it is incredibly difficult to learn interactive group numbers alone.

A similar story is told in the Jazz program, where vocal ensembles have been severely affected by mask and distancing protocol. Due to the social distancing requirements in the 2020-2021 academic year, the only space big enough to accommodate vocal ensemble rehearsals was the BlueShore Financial Centre for the Performing Arts. Though the distancing regulations have relaxed, it is still extremely difficult to tune complex chords between vocalists with the distortion that the masks provide. Mackenzie Tran (she/her), a fourth-year Jazz Vocal student, shares her thoughts on the pandemic.

“Although this was definitely necessary for the safety of the community, it unfortunately took a lot away from my experience in school as a vocalist,” said Tran. “Our performance opportunities were slim to none, and the masks massively changed the way we sound when singing, as well as the way we practice breathing techniques.”

There is still one semester remaining before she graduates, though, and optimism is key during hard times. “I’ve learnt a lot in my three and-a-half years but unfortunately feel like I didn’t get as much out of it as I would have liked to. I’m hoping that this upcoming semester will allow us to have more performance opportunities and chances to play with others!”

Tran echoes a sentiment shared by many — that while life is difficult now, the future could hold any number of things. All of us have our own way of doing our part, and hopefully, it will bring the university — and the world — to a more stable place.

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