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Returning to in-person classes is a tough but inevitable reality

Returning to in-person classes is a tough but inevitable reality

Returning to in-person classes is a tough but inevitable reality
April 02
12:00 2021

If all goes according to plan, the university will fully resume in-person classes this fall. We will soon go through a new, uncomfortable process in achieving a familiar yet new norm.

Putting aside one’s view on whether or not going back to campus is premature, returning to the classroom is an inevitability we all need to come to grips with. As nearly three million Americans are vaccinated daily, we likely have more Zoom meetings behind us than there are ahead. With that in mind, it is time to face reality and get ready to set our alarms earlier than five minutes before your nine a.m. class.

It has been over a year since the university transitioned to online classes due to the then-starting COVID-19 pandemic. The transition process was swift and sudden, with both teachers and students scrambling to achieve normalcy in a radically uncertain situation. A year into remote learning, the adjustment process has certainly taken its toll. What was once thought to be a reprieve away from the Union, slowly turned into the new norm with some students not even having stepped foot into Denton since before the pandemic.

For students who ran with the online model and had an academic streak of brilliance, the idea of going back to an on-person setting could be disconcerting. There are undoubtedly those who took the at-home model in stride and found a nice rhythm to keep their grades afloat. More introverted students, as well as commuters, found a saving grace to working at home. Gone were the long and tedious drives to campus. They no longer needed to worry about congested traffic or a full gas tank, but rather their internet connection and making sure their laptop is charged up. Sure, the at-home model provides its own set of challenges, but learning from home provided students newfound stability that was nonexistent before the pandemic.

On the other side, some students flourished in physical class sessions, but floundered due to their home being the hub for their school, work and day-to-day lives. To have one singular location be dedicated to all major facets of one’s life, work and leisure can quickly become suffocating. There is a need to maintain boundaries between different aspects of life. Working from home provides unique versions of fatigue and restlessness, according to a study funded by Microsoft. Students in this camp, those who feed off the energy of physical discourse, stepping foot on campus means a chance to jumpstart their academic success.

Either way you cut it, going from solitary online class sessions to full house classrooms will have a whiplash effect. Will the awkward silences found in many a Zoom meeting translate to the deafening quiet of a classroom? There will no longer be a chance to fall back on “technical difficulties” or turn off your camera for the sake of privacy (or so the professor can’t see you napping). In-person classes will likely feel like a marathon-long performance where we need to mind our posture, the clothes we wear and how attentive we appear to the lecturer.

Heading into the fall, students will have to confront the inevitable. They will need to take what made them succeed online to somehow thrive in Denton. There is no such thing as a perfectly smooth transition, and this last year is a testament to that.

Just like going online full-time, returning to campus will test us in new and uncomfortable ways. Many of us will be out of our literal comfort zones as we navigate through a campus we once knew like the back of our hands. Settling into a new groove will be long and arduous with a good helping of growing pains. But it will be a necessary and possibly enlightening process. For better or worse, it is time to brace for the inevitable.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

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Kevin Diaz

Kevin Diaz

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