More than 95% of classes will be in-person spring semester, according to an email from Acting President and Provost Herbert Medina, which is up from 82% this semester, according to Assistant Provost Elise Moentmann.
With information provided by the COVID-19 steering committee, the Provost Council made the decision to move more classes in-person, Moentmann said.
“All the information that we’ve had is that students really want to be in-person,” Moentmann said. “And we’re trying to make that happen as much as we can.”
Jayden Hogue, a junior nursing major, said she is excited for the shift back to campus.
“I’m excited for more classes to be fully back in-person,” Hogue said. “The number of cases on campus has currently been relatively low so that is reassuring. I feel like I’m able to learn better and pay better attention in-person so I’m excited for that.”
Mechanical engineering professor Kenneth Lulay, who has been teaching online this semester, said his students are excited to return in-person.
Lulay is excited to return to the classroom next semester and has missed the “face-to-face interactions.”
Professors can be granted a medical exemption to teach strictly online for spring by submitting a request with a doctor’s explanation.
“We’ve asked professors to apply for an accommodation if they have health reasons or if a family member has health reasons that they might need to teach online for safety concerns,” Moentmann said.
Moentmann reassures students and staff that the classroom is the safest place on campus and enforcing social distancing within the classroom is not a concern because of UP’s mask policy and high-vaccination rates.
Students will mostly know which of their classes will be in-person by registration, but are still asked to keep in mind that there’s always the possibility for last minute changes.
But with campus returning to a greater sense of normalcy, there will be some aspects of online classes that will be missed.
“I will definitely miss being able to be in my pajamas during class,” Hogue said. “Also being able to snack since wearing masks (makes it harder) to eat in class.”
Outside of enjoying the comforts of home, many students have adapted their routines and work schedules to online classes. Moving to a completely in-person schedule may conflict with off-campus jobs, family commitments and other responsibilities that students have picked up during the pandemic.
For senior mechanical engineering major Joey Oliver, online classes allowed him to maintain his part-time job at a tire dealership.
He has an hour and a half lunch break on Tuesdays and Thursdays so he can take a class virtually.
“When it comes down to it, I can't afford to live somewhere without working,” Oliver said. “If I stopped working tomorrow until the end of the semester I just wouldn't make it financially.”
With fewer virtual classes, it’s been challenging for Oliver to make a work schedule for next semester.
“Ultimately what it means that less classes are online is that I have to schedule my classes around my work and not vice versa,” Oliver said. “Even for this last year, I was able to pick out my schedule and then form my work schedule around it, but that's not the case for this next semester.”
In the perfect world for Oliver, school and work wouldn’t be in conflict with each other, but there are many occasions when he has to prioritize one over the other.
“There's a fine line in the relationship between work and school,” Oliver said. “And as much as I want to say that I always prioritize school, I don't think that's necessarily the case. That's because I have to prioritize work to exist essentially.”
Janea Melido is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
William Seekamp contributed to this story. He can be reached at email@example.com.