While many professors and students are excited to resume in-person learning next semester, some have lingering fears about how the transition will impact them.
On March 1, Ohio University President Duane Nellis announced in an university-wide email that OU would be increasing in-person classes next fall. With scheduling for next semester right around the corner, professors and students alike have expressed concerns about the impact that COVID-19 will have on their classes.
“The major concern among my colleagues isn't teaching in person, we've done it before, we know how to teach in person,” Eddith Dashiell, director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, said. “Yes, we want to be in person. Yes, we want to teach our classes. But we also don't want to get sick.”
Makayla Miller, a sophomore studying nursing, and Theo Bookwalter, a sophomore studying integrated language arts, both expressed concerns about the way that COVID-19 may impact them in larger classes.
“Last year when I was fully in-person, I had a class with like 110 people in it. Even though there were some empty seats we were still sitting elbow-to-elbow,” Bookwalter said. “I think unless OU either put those classes online, or makes them significantly smaller, that's where the major concern for me would be.”
Similarly, Miller said that she has taken courses with around 300 people enrolled and would be nervous if she were to have class sizes that large next semester.
OU is working to reduce the density of students in classrooms next semester and have identified spaces where larger courses could potentially be held. They also plan to divide courses into smaller sections for face-to-face instruction, offer more in-person hybrid courses and may continue to offer larger classes online, according to the email.
“We know this news will be celebrated by many, while some students, faculty, and staff might be anxious about this shift,” Nellis said in the email. “Know that we remain deeply dedicated to maintaining a safe and healthy campus, and we would not be making these plans if we had not seen such success over recent months.”
With these concerns, students expressed mixed emotions regarding the academic impact that the transition from online learning to in-person learning will have on them.
“I'm excited to go back to in-person,” Miller said. “I hope professors understand that it's hard to transition back to anything, especially when it's been over a year of being at our houses and doing online (classes). It's definitely a different type of learning style that we have to get used to again.”
Conversely, Bookwalter is eager to be back in-person to have more accountability in his classes, he said.
“I think going in-person would be a better thing for my academic achievement than it is now,” Bookwalter said.
Despite potential concerns, a sense of excitement from students, faculty and administration is palpable.
“I prefer to teach in person,” Dashiell said. “I'm looking forward to being back in the classroom.”