Ohio University is offering more in-person classes this Fall Semester than in the spring, and even though there are still concerns about COVID-19, many students and professors believe being in-person allows for better learning experiences.
Students and professors have seen that in their in-person classes, the actual face-to-face interactions have been beneficial to both professors, who can see if their students are engaged in the class, and students, who are able to make connections with their peers.
“We have had a couple of discussions in my two classes … The people who chose to express an opinion were emphatically in favor of having face-to-face lectures,” Steven Miner, professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, said. “There is a real human interaction that you don’t get when you are on a computer … I am able to look at people’s faces and see if they are getting it, if they are confused, if they are interested, if they are engaged.”
There are still classes being taught online in the fall as well. For many students, including Kyleigh Campbell, a freshman studying biological sciences pre-med who has both online and in-person classes, the benefit of being able to interact with professors and other classmates makes face-to-face classes better.
“It’s just a better environment to learn in instead of being online,” Campbell said. “You get to actually interact with the people you are in class with, and you get to form relationships.”
Online classes in 2020 hindered many in-person experiences for different programs at the university, which was difficult for some students. One of the programs affected by experiences being online was the early childhood and elementary education major. Jaden Kenner, a junior studying early childhood and elementary education, said students had to livestream into the classrooms, which made it harder to interact with peers.
“Last year, we were supposed to be at the CDC, the Childhood Development Center, on campus at the university, and we were unable to be there, so we had to watch through a livestream,” Kenner said. “That was our first opportunity to be in a classroom setting with children, so we are finally having that experience now in local elementary schools, and it's so much better than sitting online.”
Campbell said classes with lab components also benefit from in-person instruction because it allows students to experience hands-on experiments and other lab activities.
Even though Campbell said many students and professors have been wearing masks in most of their classes, there is still a serious concern about COVID-19 spreading in face-to-face classes. That is especially applicable now, as daily cases of COVID-19 have trended upward throughout Athens County.
“I was eager to get back in class, and did so as soon as I could, and I would like to continue if possible,” Miner said, “Although the spike in cases is very worrisome.”
Miner also expressed concern about individuals getting COVID-19, even if they have received a vaccine.
Ohio University announced Aug. 31 that all students, faculty and staff are required to get a COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 15, according to a previous Post report. That decision was made using the advice of public health experts and was consistent with many different colleges in Ohio, including Ohio State University.
It is too early to tell the effects of the vaccine mandate on in-person classes and activities on campus as well as the cases count in Athens. However, there is evidence from the National Institutes of Health that the vaccine helps prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Students have expressed that they enjoy their in-person classes and, in turn, would like to see more or even all in-person classes during spring semester, though that is yet to be determined by the university.
“I’d much rather have to wear a mask if I want in-person classes than to be online,” Kenner said. “Being online last year was tough.”