Students Reacclimate to In-Person Classes

By James Stein Sep 17, 2021

 

When classes resumed for the fall semester, Illinois Wesleyan students found themselves in a place where they haven’t been in what seemed like a lifetime: the classroom.

When COVID-19 brought in-person classes to a screeching halt in the spring semester of 2020, many students saw it as an early summer vacation. IWU, along with the rest of the world, quickly shifted in-person classes to online meetings. A year ago, students had no idea they would take their courses via video conference platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet for the next two semesters.

When IWU students received the fateful email that they would once again sit in a classroom, it seemed that things were looking up for students now that a vaccine for the virus has been developed and approved by the FDA. Many students already have the vaccine, with the University reporting a student vaccination rate of 90 percent.

The student vaccination rate was supplemented by the on-campus vaccination clinics. The most recent being the one on September 14th.

The university also has thorough mask and distancing requirements outlined in the Titan Pledge, “[Students will] wear [a] washable cloth face mask while around others in indoor spaces including class, campus activities, work, and meetings, regardless of vaccination status.”

In-person instruction has proved more effective for most students. “Thank goodness for in-person classes. I just can’t stay focused or engaged with online classes,” said senior Ben Knupp. Knupp is a nursing major and many nursing majors struggled the past year not only because of the nature of a pandemic, but because of how much nursing school requires hands-on learning. 

Sophomores seem to be notably excited about the return of in-person instruction due to an underwhelming experience last year. 

“It feels like I’m actually in college now that I’m attending classes in classrooms,” sophomore James Owen said.  . . . Which goes to show how much of the true college experience is contingent on in-person classes.

“Being back to in-person learning has been such an improvement for me. There is something to be said for sitting in the classroom with your peers and learning with your professor in front of you. The opportunities for hands-on learning, collaborating, etc. are almost endless,” junior Caleb Klima said. 

This hands-on learning was something that was missed over the last year, especially in the School of Music. During the last year, no ensembles could perform concerts in front of live audiences and most private lessons were held virtually, which caused frustration among many students.

Klima continued, “regarding overall well-being, emotionally and socially it has helped me to get back to classes in a safe manner.”

For some, though, being back in a classroom is a cause for concern. 

Kaylie Remen, a senior who is currently student teaching, said, “I’m glad we’re in person. I feel like online instruction is very different but also the kids need to be spaced out more in most classrooms.”

The CDC still recommends a minimum distance of six feet in-between individuals who are not in your household.

“Some are better than others but it’s still concerning because kids obviously aren’t vaxxed and we have no way of knowing if their parents are. Also, a kid coughed at me,” added Remen.

Now that most classes are being held in-person, IWU can once again start shifting back to a sense of normalcy. However, just because IWU and many other institutions have returned to in-person classes, everyone should continue doing their part to ensure transmissions stay low.

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