It’s safe to return to campus, but students should have options
April 15, 2021
UW-River Falls administration is planning to have an in-person fall semester. With many midwestern states currently experiencing spikes in coronavirus cases, this decision raises questions about the safety of this decision.
In a press release from February, Chancellor Connie Foster said, “UW-River Falls is feeling very hopeful about our intended return to a more traditional fall semester. We know that this is what we do best: supporting our Falcons’ success by interacting with them in person in a multitude of ways, inside the classroom and beyond.”
Foster released various statements, she said in the upcoming months she hopes that UWRF will return to campus in the fall alongside many other UW-system schools. Vaccination rates have been increasing in Wisconsin, and according to the Wisconsin department of health services, 38% of Wisconsin residents have received at least one dose.
According to the university, vaccines will not be mandatory for any employees or students at UWRF. The campus will offer an on-site vaccination clinic once the state deems them eligible.
As of now, there are still mask requirements and testing requirements of those on campus.
According to a statement from the university, face coverings, physical distancing and regular testing may not be needed, however, they are monitoring the situation and those factors will be revisited closer to fall semester
Overall, it does sound safe to return to campus as long as the university enforces safety measures, like mask wearing and hand washing. Four months is a long time in a pandemic and a lot can happen between now and fall, so being proactive and making the safest decisions should ultimately continue to be a priority.
Although it may be safe to return to campus and there is a lot of excitement about a “return to normalcy” we think that there should still be options in place for those who may not want to return to campus so soon.
During the past year that we have been in this global pandemic, life has changed for everyone. Online classes have been more beneficial for some students, those who have full time jobs, commute or are non-traditional students might enjoy the flexibility that online and distance learning provides for them. Hybrid classes may be more appealing to these students going forward and offering that alternative may allow for students to continue in their time at UWRF.
However, other students may be struggling with this type of class structure. Students might be experiencing burn out, exhaustion, struggling with managing their online classes and missing the social aspect of being in class with peers. The deprivation of social environments has impacted the mental health of people everywhere and going back to campus may help with this.
People are longing for that routine, but are also overwhelmed by the idea of returning back at full force. The combination of some classes being offered in person while a majority are back in the classroom, provides students with the ability to ease back into some type of normalcy.
We found that online schedules can be deceiving for some students, presenting the illusion of having more open time to complete the work for classes. The difference is that students are now going over classwork and then moving on to homework, which takes an additional amount of time.
There are different needs for different students and we think the university should acknowledge and pay attention to those needs. Space should be created for these conversations and knowing what is best for everyone will create an even more inclusive community at UWRF.