How the U’s ‘Circuit Breaker’ Period Is Affecting Arts Students


Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City on September 28th, 2020. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Parker Dunn, Online Managing Editor


The University of Utah has gone into “circuit breaker” mode as of Sunday, Sept. 27. In preparation for the only vice presidential debate this election season — which the U will host at Kingsbury Hall on Oct. 7 — and with regard to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, all classes and student services have been moved online for two weeks.

Though the circuit breaker period will hopefully help reduce the number of COVID-19 cases on campus, the two weeks of virtual education doesn’t come without its difficulties – especially for art students here at the U. 

Art students have already proven to adapt well to recent changes concerning the coronavirus and have stayed positive in the face of adversity thus far, but the circuit breaker poses new challenges, some of which have caused students to express concern and feelings of frustration.

“I have two classes that utilize the studio spaces in the art building, both senior-level classes, and I have projects that utilize the darkroom space, as well as the photography studio space – both of which are pretty difficult to reproduce at home,” said arts student Ethan Lee Edwards. “We also have projects due the Tuesday after the circuit breaker weeks. Most of my classmates, as well as I, are having trouble imagining how we are supposed to finish projects nearly on time when there are two entire weeks we aren’t allowed to use the spaces that we must in order to finish on time.” 

Edwards isn’t alone in his concerns about meeting deadlines, as Art Teaching major Abigail Hakala cites similar feelings. “With limited class time we have less time to work on our projects, and then on top of that our due dates must stay the same which means even more rushing on our projects,” she said. 

Edwards likens his and other classmates’ — who have voiced similar concerns — circumstances unto a hypothetical situation where lab students would be asked to take things home and somehow make it work. “It would discredit a lot of the integrity and quality of the work in my opinion,” he said. “And that is for photography as a medium which has ample opportunity for digital means of production, but many other mediums would struggle much more than ours, like ceramics, sculpture and printmaking,” he added.

Hakala is also in a tough situation. She said, “It is difficult because the art foundation classes are already shorter than most classes, they are only half a semester-long, and with COVID-19 we can only have in-person class once a week instead of twice. So, our class time is already short as it is, and the two-week circuit breaker doesn’t help.” 

Although Hakala is in a bit of a bind, she does look on the bright side of things regarding the circuit breaker. “I think it’s a good way to help keep a spike in coronavirus cases down, and it has made it so I now know more techniques for projects that I can use at home,” she said.

The last day of the U’s circuit breaker period will be Sunday, Oct. 11. In-person instruction is planned to resume on Monday, Oct. 12.


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