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University does not plan to go back online this semester, students and staff weigh in

University does not plan to go back online this semester, students and staff weigh in

University does not plan to go back online this semester, students and staff weigh in
September 09
14:00 2021

While the university does not plan on classes returning to an online format the semester, the administration said it is keeping an eye on the COVID-19 situation.

“The health and safety of the UNT community continues to be our top priority,” Elizabeth With, vice president of Student Affairs, said. “University leadership monitors case counts daily and reviews the latest guidance from public health experts, including the university’s chief medical officer.”

One of the main reasons the university does not want to move online is to make sure students are getting the full experience the university advertised during the summer. It is also a reason why there is no social distancing in classrooms this semester.

“UNT administrators know that a majority [of students] do not want to lose the on-campus experience they missed last year, so we will do everything we can to keep the campus safe and allow in-person classes to continue,” With said. “Social distancing in the classroom was eliminated to allow the classroom experience to resume,” With said.

While members of the student body have expressed similar longings to maintain the normal college experience, some are not very confident it can be.

“I bet my dad $5 that we’d be back to online before winter break,” Roberto Liam Menchaca, material science and engineering senior, said. “Granted, I definitely don’t want that because I’d lose my job and have to live with my parents.”

Menchaca also said if the semester were to go online his “senior design project would pretty much be tanked” and he would not be able to continue his work with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.

Other students are not as opposed to returning online, with some even saying they miss aspects of remote learning.

“[I] honestly love it,” stage management junior Jillian Royse said. “No paying for parking, dealing with traffic and I can stay in bed. Zoom is easy to use.”

However, Menchaca said they felt a drop in the quality of the education they received online.

“The first time, it was hardest on the professors honestly,” Menchaca said. “The transition was rough and led to a difficult time learning.”

Vince Granata, a graduate teaching fellow in English, said online learning was a new challenge he had to adapt to quickly but believes that quality education can still happen online.

“There are definitely elements of the in-person experience that are difficult to replicate online and some challenges that are unique to online instruction, but in my experience, these are not insurmountable obstacles,” Granata said. “I’m confident that we can still deliver effective courses if community safety demands we shift to remote learning.”

Some professors at the university are already teaching remotely this semester and said the experience from the last transition online helped them to do so smoothly.

“I’ve got students isolating/quarantining already, so in effect, I’m doing the online version of the class with them and the old face-to-face version with the rest,” adjunct theater instructor Julie Brinker said. “It’s a lot of work, but I’m glad I had the last 2.5 semesters to create content for them.”

With no mask or vaccine requirements allowed on campus due to executive orders from Gov. Greg Abbott, university administration emphasizes personal responsibility.

“Keeping the campus safe is the responsibility of all students, faculty and staff,” With said. “We request that everyone wear a mask indoors and strongly encourage getting vaccinated.”

Some students feel this responsibility a lot more than others.

“I think if everyone follows the testing guidelines we could stay in person,” Royse said. “But it seems like every day I see less and less masks on campus.”

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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John Anderson

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