Businesses owners and professors in the area have been affected drastically this past year. Most businesses have changed harshly by either being fully closed due to restrictions, redesigned, or even moving locations. Wanda Haby is no exception.
Haby, a SUNY Plattsburgh faculty member and H&H Music Studio business owner, is finding herself busy during these unprecedented times.While teaching at the university, Haby is also running her own business and volunteering at the isolation and quarantine dorms. She helps students get what they need whether it’s bottled water, meals, magazines, and even treats.
“I bought a whole bunch of ice cream at Sam’s for them,” Haby said. “Just a few things to make them feel better while being stuck in a little room for however long the CDC tells you.”
Both Haby’s teaching and personal life have been affected by COVID-19. She planned on getting married in May of last year and it has been postponed until her fiance can cross the border again from Canada.
“Because of his job, we have not seen each other since last Saint Patrick’s Day,” Haby said.
COVID has affected Haby’s teaching as well.
“I have a strict seating chart,” Baby said. “I make sure they wash their desks, and no congregating.”
Professor Haby also discussed that she is referring her students to services and having appointments to just talk to them personally.Over the past year, students have found themselves grasping for motivation and really struggling mentally from the pandemic, the new way of life, and their home situations.
“In the beginning of the semester, parents were concerned with their kids’ living situations and classes,” Haby said.“The university is doing everything they can to keep the students safe.”
Haby is now extremely flexible with deadlines for her students. She said if they need more time, dates are moveable.
This past year, Professor Haby had even received the award for Exemplary SUNY Faculty Member for Online Teaching. It was the only award given to a Plattsburgh Staff member.
Haby also juggles her own local business. H&H Music pre-COVID had over 130 students and music families coming through for lessons.
“People were driving for hours just to take lessons here,” she said.
Seven teachers were working independently out of the studio. Whether it was drums, voice, piano or strings, H&H Music had it. All schedules were full with Wanda specifically having 62 private students at the same time. The studio helped prepare students for university auditions, state music festivals, America’s Got Talent auditions, etc. Several of the studio’s students were accepted in schools such as Crane School of Music, Berklee College of Music, and even the Juilliard Conservatory. Haby worked with students with disabilities in particular.
“For some of them, they have told me that this is one of the only things they look forward to every week,” she said.
The studio was doing outstanding until COVID hit, but H&H Music is still closed after months due to entertainment restrictions and distancing guidelines.
“We used to do four recitals a year, and students learn how to be professional from these to build self-confidence. This year, that has all been lost.”
The studio used to do community service around the area.
“It is truly heartbreaking that the service they provided to their students is all gone,” Haby said.
In this unprecedented time, local faculty and business owners are taking a large portion of the blow from our new reality. Haby and local business H&H Music are just one instance of lasting effects of this global pandemic. Hundreds of people are still struggling everyday in the area, whether it be a student, business, or professor. Lives have changed for better or worse.
With vaccines rolling out every week and students now allowed to get them, the end of COVID could be near.