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There is no good reason NOT to keep the rest of winter semester virtual

By Kian Samavati, February 25 2022—

As is commonly known, the rest of the Winter 2022 semester after reading break is going to be shifted from virtual delivery to in-person classes. And while I understand that it may just sound like the ramblings of a lazy student who doesn’t want to leave the house for class, I don’t see how shifting the rest of the winter term to in-person learning acts as anything other than a detriment to the student body and staff.

Back when it was practically forced upon us as a result of the pandemic, the transition into online learning was understandably very difficult, both for students trying to learn the material they were given and for instructors trying to manage their courses.

And while it’s still nowhere near perfect, after two years of being in this format, it’s clear most students have acclimated to virtual delivery of courses to the point where a level of stability can be found. This is helped immensely by instructors and staff finding methods to better deliver course content in ways that overcome and even sometimes take advantage of the online schooling environment.

With that in mind, suddenly disrupting that stability yet again in order to make classes in-person has very little basis, as most issues that arise as a result of online learning have either already been addressed or could be addressed in time. Trying to force this too quickly will only have negative outcomes. Not terrible outcomes certainly, but still decidedly negative ones.

Firstly, obviously, there’s the issue of safety. With no requirement for proof of vaccination in order to enter facilities, there is a risk of those without proper protection getting infected by the COVID virus. Admittedly this is a fairly minor concern given how widespread vaccination has become, but it’s still a health risk for those on campus being taken for what is, I’ll say again, no good reason.

As an example, there are many cases where people with certain health conditions cannot be given the vaccine, making them even more vulnerable to the virus’s effects. Online classes help these individuals still participate in their curricula and work in a safe environment. Taking that away to suddenly puts them either at a disadvantage or at risk.

Then comes the impact this transition can have on even those who are vaccinated. Since this is happening right in the middle of a currently ongoing term, students will be forced to change their way of learning entirely in a short time frame, since as I said most have found a sense of stability in this current system.

This change will inevitably cause many students to go through an adjustment period that could negatively impact their performance, much like how it was negatively impacted when things were suddenly shifted to online delivery. All of that happening during midterm season will likely cause a hit to their marks that feels unfair.

And if that doesn’t sound like a huge deal, try thinking about it from the perspective of the instructors and TAs, who spend a lot of time and put in a lot of work just to plan out and design coursework and learning material for their students.

Just this term, I’ve both heard and felt the struggles of my instructors trying to manage a class across two very different learning environments, with incomplete and sometimes inaccurate course outlines and a general lack of preparedness for many elements of the course. That’s not to disparage the incredible patience and work ethic these people demonstrate.

At least in my experience, they do a frankly incredible job keeping the courses on track despite all these struggles. But it’s meant to showcase just how much stress and hardship can be placed on both parties when they’re being forced to change everything on a dime.

Which is all the more reason to have the rest of the winter term online and instead start the next term in-person. Because I’m far from opposed to getting things back to the way they were before — I want classes to go back to being in-person as much as anyone else, my sleep schedule and gas fare be damned.

However, for the reasons I’ve pointed out, doing so too quickly and especially as a term is already well underway does nothing but disrupt what balance has been acquired over the course of two years of adaptation. It wouldn’t be for long, obviously, but given the utter lack of needs or benefits to rushing things that I can see, we’re left with just a list of negatives that could be easily avoided. And I for one think it’s worth waiting just a little longer for the sake of a smooth transition.

This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board.

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