COVID-19 has had an immense impact on the whole world, and will continue to for the foreseeable future It has affected such things as businesses, economies, and, in particular, schools. Whittier College’s JanTerm this year was held virtually after just two days of in-person learning for some classes. On Jan. 12, WC announced that the first three weeks of the current Spring semester would be held virtually as well. Now, the question hanging over the WC community is: should classes for Spring 2022 remain online? Seeing as COVID-19 cases are on the rise daily, the only safe option is remote learning.
According to US News, more than 70 colleges across 26 states are starting their Spring semesters online. Many of the colleges that are doing this are in bigger cities that happen to be hot spots for COVID-19. Like Whittier, these institutions are operating remotely for at least one week and then transitions back to in-person activities. Waiting to see what COVID-19 looks like in a few weeks time and what actions they can take moving forward seems to be the trend amongst these institutions. Whittier College has adapted the same format, in hopes that the spread of COVID-19 becoming less serious. However, the preeminent alternative for Whittier College should be remaining online until things improve. The best solution is to be extra cautious of any possible outbreaks that can occur if classes resumed on campus. Courses being held online are the most efficient way to steer clear of this problem.
Recently, COVID-19 cases have been soaring, and students are more at risk of getting infected if classes resumed in person. Omicron, especially, is the variant to blame due to its highly transmissible features — which can easily be passed amongst students. Whittier College happens to be a relatively small school in comparison to other colleges, but that doesn’t mean this virus can’t spread from one community member to another, just like at a larger university. There has been a cumulative of 191 total positive cases on campus. Currently, as of Feb. 21, 2022, there are a total of four campus positive cases at Whittier College — all of which are residential students.
97 percent of Whittier College students are vaccinated, while 95 percent of faculty and staff are vaccinated. Still, continuing in person is big a risk. There is still a probability for a vaccinated individual to spread the virus amongst other vaccinated people, and unvaccinated individuals, though few and far between at WC, are at an even higher risk.
So many students are being encouraged to go back to in-person classes. However, do these students feel comfortable being around hundreds of other students, on top of the staff and faculty that also have to come back to campus? Third-year Dominic Arvizu said, “Infection rates are still high, and sanitation becomes an issue in common areas. Living situations become difficult for commuter students who could get the virus at school unknowingly then pass it off to their family members. I believe Whittier College going remote for the Spring semester would prevent the students and staff from contracting the virus, and limit possible exposure.”
On the other hand, some students do feel comfortable enough going back to in-person classes, with regards to vaccination and booster statuses amongst students. Third-year Ishaan Chetty said, “I believe that class should resume in person. Since the school has mandated vaccines and the booster shot, even if we get COVID, the shots have shown to decrease the effect of the virus. So as long as we wear masks and be safe about being on campus, I feel we should be able to resume in-person learning.”
There happens to be numerous benefits to staying online for the time being, until things vastly improve. The great thing about remote learning is the flexibility that is offered with online settings. Numerous students have to work alongside being a student; online courses make it much less difficult to manage your time. Self-motivation and discipline are skills that can easily be developed from remote work. Students become accustomed to technology while being online. Nowadays, everything is becoming technological, and being remote is the new norm.
One of the major positives about in-person classes is the social interaction amongst students. However, there is still interaction that is available online with friends, professors, staff, etc.; professors create office hours through Zoom, and chat functions are available for talking with fellow classmates. Ultimately, this may not be as sufficient as face-to-face interaction, but, for the circumstances, it’s the better alternative. Who knows how long it will take until things are anywhere near normal? It may take months, depending on how people seem to treat this global situation.
Another question persists: how do I make online classes easier for myself? It’s difficult to stay engaged in a class online when there are countless distractions. Try creating a quiet environment, or having a specific place where you can attend class, do homework, and study. This should be a space that will help you avoid any distractions that come from your household. Make a calendar, and be aware of everything that goes on in your classes. It’s easy to get caught up and forget about homework or a test. Along with this, make sure to ask questions, be on top of your classes, and know what’s going on all the time. Third-year Tanya Garcia talked about what it’s like for her having classes online, “[I still get] ready before class [ . . . ] wearing something cute or doing my makeup [ . . . ] always making sure my space is clean — just self care, I guess. Academically, I make sure to always be prepared, like always doing the reading, or whatever, just so I feel more involved.”
Although many college students dread the fact that we have to be online for classes, it’s best to look at the advantages that come with this situation we’re stuck in. We should all take something out of this and take advantage of the opportunities that come with online courses. No one wants to be online, but it’s for the better. We have to think about the positive effects that’ll come from this.
Featured Image: Sage Amdahl / Quaker Campus