Angela Ellison. 

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.  

BENNINGTON — “I’ve always been that person that said, ‘I never want to take online classes if I don’t have to,’ because I’m a total social interactor. I get energy from others,” said Angela Ellison, 46, explaining that college and COVID have been a difficult mix.

Ellison is a Bennington resident and a Community College of Vermont student, on a nursing track.

And she discovered that college, like most things in life, has been altered by the pandemic. Colleges and their students in Southern Vermont have adjusted to COVID in multiple ways, from coronavirus testing and masking to mental health supports, and from distance learning to hybrid and flexible schedules.

In spring 2020, Ellison’s classes moved to distance learning, and the stresses of virtual education took a toll, she said.

But there was an upside. “COVID brought up some extreme things into my life that kind of needed to be worked through, that I wouldn’t have realized if it hadn’t been for COVID.”

When she was younger, she had anorexia, an eating disorder. Something about the difficulties of distance learning made her finally face unresolved pain from her past. “I did want to drop out at that point.”

But she got the help she needed, through trauma counseling and academic support.

Support our journalism. Subscribe today. →

“My teachers were amazing — every person that I have dealt with at CCV, from the professors to the administrative assistants, to the receptionist to my advisers supported me.”

After receiving extensions and taking time off for the summer 2020 semester, she’s back on track to finish up all her prerequisite requirements this spring.

With 12 locations at major hubs — including Bennington and Brattleboro — and online learning options, CCV is in many ways a microcosm of higher education in the state. But with about 50 percent of its classes offered online prior to the pandemic, it was poised to make a fairly graceful pivot to the hybridity that the pandemic has demanded.

“It was still quite a lift for students and faculty, but we were well-positioned for that change in spring of 2020,” said Katie Keszey, director of the communications department at CCV.

CCV offers students the options to enroll in traditional, synchronous online, hybrid or flex courses. The last is an option that allows students to self-pace a course, and is part — along with low tuition — of the college’s commitment to accessibility. Many of the school system’s students work full time while enrolled, making flexibility necessary, not just a perk.

The school system now requires its students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to participate in person.


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us.
We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.