On March 11 last year, the University of Oregon announced that it wouldn’t hold in-person final exams for winter term and the first three weeks of spring term would be held remotely. Now, nearly a year later, the university is beginning to offer hybrid classes that will reintroduce students to in-person classes. While many see this as a slight return to normalcy, others advise students to remain socially distanced just a little longer until vaccination is more common.
Calloway: Choose online learning for a while longer
As UO offers hybrid classes for this upcoming term, I urge all students to continue taking classes exclusively online. Lane County is still in the extreme risk category for COVID-19 cases, and according to UO’s COVID-19 case tracker, in the past week, UO has seen 52 new cases — 29 coming from off-campus students and 23 coming from on-campus students. Right now, continuing online learning is the safest option for both students and faculty.
I understand the desire to get back on campus. I never thought I’d miss rushing through the EMU to get to my next class, but here I am wishing that I was there. Especially for first-year students, the expectations of sitting in lecture halls and roaming around campus in between classes were never fulfilled. And now that hybrid classes are being offered, it shines a light on the possibility of a somewhat normal college experience.
However, we all need to avoid in-person classes for just a little longer. COVID-19 vaccination distribution is ramping up in Oregon. A future that mirrors our mask-free past is closer than ever. But that’s all the more reason to do our part while that reality is still out of reach. Staying online is an easy way for all of us to eliminate the increase of cases.
Aghel: We can transition back to in-person classes
The nation is beginning to pick up the pace with vaccinations and testing has become widespread and accessible. Despite these improvements, our school system has remained in the same state: Zoom. Our education has suffered as a result. Despite its convenience, there is no substitute for the engagement one has in a physical setting. It’s time for some students to return to in-person classes — we have the means to do it.
Of course, I’m not advocating for just anyone to be part of the in-person aspect of hybrid classes. Students who have recklessly gathered and continue to break social distancing rules have no business being a part of this. I’m talking about students who are vaccinated, or those responsible enough to be masked, distanced and tested regularly. They could begin this process alongside vaccinated faculty. It would add an engaged dimension to the classroom, which could help professors as a result — having students join them would add an engagement dimension that professors lacked. All students, then, stand to benefit from some being introduced to the classroom.
I understand that it is difficult to imagine some students sitting in their bedrooms while others are in the classroom. However, encouraging some students to return to class would ease the infrastructural challenge we’d face by waiting to allow all students at once later. Hybrid classes are like a test run to better help us in the future. Students already have to go to grocery stores and other public places —we have the means to make an even safer return to our crucial education with the proper protocols.