Coping with COVID-19: Students grasp for routine without classes, athletics

Waking up at the same early time every day, junior Hailey Nold rolls out of bed in her parents’ Sioux Falls home and begins to arrange the blankets, sheets and pillows.

“I have had to be super good about making my bed and keeping that mode of productivity,” Nold said. “Otherwise I feel like it’s just difficult to get out of bed or it’s easier to get into bed and do homework from there.”

Senior Blake Savey also gets up early, waking up at 8 a.m. to tackle his day. Without classes and track, Savey, who is student teaching this semester, must build his own structure.

“When you have the freedom to structure your whole day, it is a good indicator of where your priorities are,” Savey said.

Savey used to have stacked classes, dictating when he could eat. His track practices determined when he would do his homework.

But now that structure is gone.

Savey has been reevaluating his priorities and their importance to decide what will fit into his schedule and what won’t. 

“It’s really hard to stick to it, just knowing that you can procrastinate,” Savey said. 

After giving himself some personal time to drink his coffee and spend time with the Bible, Savey makes sure that assignments are posted correctly and checks for emails from students at Bishop O’Gorman High School, where he student teaches. 

         Before spring break, most Augustana students expected to return to campus. The coronavirus pandemic had other ideas. In-person classes, practices, labs and other campus norms no longer map out the spring 2020 semester for students, who are now stuck social distancing in their homes.

         “By doing your work online, there’s a lot of loss of structure,” Nold said. “I’ve had to do a good job about creating my own structure and creating a self-calendar that I can follow, just to make it seem more similar to when I’m at school.”

Every week, Nold sits at her desk and fills in two white boards. 

One of the white boards she hangs in her room as a personal map of her daily routine. 

9 a.m.-11 a.m. — Do homework.

11 a.m.-12 p.m. — Lunch.

And so on.

The other she posts outside her bedroom door to inform her household of her schedule, so they don’t come knocking during her Zoom class times. 

Meanwhile, in the backyard of his house, Savey hoists up a 75-pound sandbag to begin squats and step-ups. For him, following a schedule means continuing to work out every day. 

One of Savey’s roommate’s, Alex, spent almost probably spent five hours wrapping the sandbag in duct tape for durability.

“We even put some handles on it, so we could improvise and do things that we could normally do in the weight room, Savey said. 

He and his six roommates have found new, innovative ways to get their workouts in. For example, they have filled construction buckets with sand and gravel to carry up and down the sidewalk as a solution to not having access to a weight room.

They also have a white board located in their living room  that lays out workouts for each roommate. As they complete workouts, they tick off the tasks from their communal board, competing with each other.

         But as his senior year comes to a close away from campus, Savey has reevaluated his outlook on life.

         “My biggest take away from all of this is just not taking things for granted, especially with track” Savey said.“I never thought that I wouldn’t be practicing with my teammates right now. Even just small things like giving my grandparents a hug.”

         Unfortunately, social distancing means that students aren’t able to see their family members and friends the way they want to.

“I have tried to go on a few socially-distanced walks with my friends,” Nold said. “I’ve been trying to rearrange new ways to meet with my friends to regain that aspect.”

         When she thinks of a friend, she sends them a message or calls them. She also has Zoom calls with her friend group.

         Nold will also ride her bike over to her grandparents’ place to sit in the lawn and talk with them at a distance.

As with many Christian families, Savey can’t celebrate Easter with his parents and siblings. He is located in Sioux Falls, the city with the most coronavirus cases in South Dakota, and surrounded by so many roommates.

         “I just don’t want to risk exposing them to that,” Savey said.

         But social distancing isn’t all bad.

         For Nold, self-care has finally taken priority. She didn’t have the time to focus on it while living on campus. 

         “Now, more than ever, I’ve really been taking time to take care of myself, whether that’s going on a bike ride with my brother, doing a workout video in the backyard or just spending time with the people that I can right now in this time of social distancing,” Nold said.

         Nold said she realizes the importance of things she has not previously been able to focus on.

         “It’s made me reflect on more important things in my life, because sometimes at school, it’s easy for homework to kind of take that priority,” Nold said. “When those are stripped away, you realize where your priorities should be standing.”

Five of the seven guys in Savey’s house are seniors, and Savey is excited to be in this situation with them by his side.

“As we are about to move on to different parts of life, we really have the next two months where we are just forced to do everything together,” Savey said. “There’s just so much time

to spend with these guys before we part ways.”

         So, they workout together and just have fun.

         Despite her best efforts, Nold said that nothing can really fill the void of the Augie

community’s personal connections.

         “Whenever people ask what I miss most, it’s such a hard question because I say I miss everything,” Nold said.

         She used to go to the library everyday at 9 a.m.

         She used to eat her meals with those important to her on campus.

         She used to enjoy the conversations she had with her peers and professors in classes.

         “Augie is built for that relational type of setting,” Nold said. “I miss the small interactions, you know, walking from class to class and waving at people. And I miss going to workout classes with my friends. Socially, so many things have changed.”

Leave a Reply

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: